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By Rich Cline | January 6, 2003

Made in 1995 but only now getting a British release, “Flamenco” is a precursor to Saura’s 1998 stunner “Tango.” Only where Tango wove a cleverly layered story into its examination of tango music and Argentine history, this film simply presents various styles of flamenco music straight to camera. Like a 98-minute music video, it moves from one minimalist setting to the next with colored lights, flamboyant costumes and lots of performers.
And it’s not terribly gripping if, like me, you know nothing about flamenco. Without a story, you merely have the singing, dancing and guitar playing to hold your interest. Sure, these are the world’s top musicians and dancers, old and young, and Saura as usual has some intriguing visual tricks up his sleeve. But the film simply never grabs the uneducated audience … and it leaves us just as oblivious at the end as we were at first. This isn’t a documentary–no information whatsoever is presented–it’s a performance piece. Experimental, colorful, vaguely interesting. And rather dull.

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