Directed by: #GabrielBologna
Fearing his Hebrew school is on the verge of bankruptcy, a Hasidic Rabbi and amateur Hora dancer enters a glamorous televised Tango competition to win a big cash prize.
Tango Shalom (2021) is an American family friendly comedy drama set in Brooklyn, New York and explores interfaith between religious communities and the values of love, tolerance and peace. It has reportedly made a milestone in cinema by being the first film in history to feature a joint collaboration with The Vatican, a Hasidic Synagogue, a Sikh Temple and a Mosque. Since its release, the movie has also garnered praise for its direction, screenplay, cinematography, sound design and performances, having won fifteen awards and being nominated for thirteen.
Moshe Yuhuda (Jos Laniado), gentle and empathetic husband and father to five children, struggles to find a decent job opportunity once he begins to face financial difficulties. By a lucky chance, he stumbles across a promising Argentine Tango dance lesson, led by the elegant Viviana Nieves and his natural talent for Hora dance quickly impresses her. She is enthusiastic to enter a televised Tango competition with Moshe, however, due to his orthodox religious beliefs he is forbidden from touching a woman (apart from his wife!).
Moshe’s decision causes him to become at odds with his family, as well as the Grand Rabbi of his orthodox sect and entire Hasidic community of Crown Heights, questioning his own spiritual faith. He seeks advice from a Catholic priest, a Muslim imam and a Sikh holy man and together, they hash out an inventive solution to Moshe’s issue. The film features a light-hearted, if slightly unrealistic premise and seeks to make a joyous celebration of Jewish life, but its many flaws drastically hinder a potentially inspirational, engaging story.
The movie was marketed as a comedy, however its attempts at humour very often fall flat due to poor performances and , for lack of a better word, cringeworthy execution. Most of the cast are noticeably bad in their roles and the plodding, patience testing screenplay does not help things. There is barely any character development across the board and the plot feels too simplistic and lacking in any compelling depth, which is disappointing considering the promise of the themes set up. The film struggles with pacing problems, taking too much time on basically every element of the plot, with one hour and fifty minutes bound to make many viewers restless and impatient as a result of an ill-conceived stretched out narrative. One of the only redeeming features is a nicely choreographed and directed sequence during the dance competition, which certainly stands out against the mostly low quality of what came before.
Tango Shalom is well intentioned in its attempts at promoting interfaith and peace, but ultimately suffers from too many flaws in its poor screenplay, performances and directing. Unfortunately, it is baffling to consider why this movie received the praise it did.
Tango Shalom (2022) trailer: