Posts from 7th August 2009

Aug 09

One Leg Rumba

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The thing about silent comedy is that it is sort of defined by the silence. The physical prowess of the performers, the choreography and timing is often overlooked because it seems an awful lot of work to throw into something that is quite so silly. And while a lot of the longform silent greats would often pepper their films with the occasional elegiac scene, something wistful and wonderful (to the extent that this is pretty much all that Charlie Chaplin could do near the end of his silent career), it is the pratfalls we remember.

What has this got to do with Belgian film Rumba? Its a physical slapstick comedy, though not silent in the least, as there is a lot of the titular Rumba music in it. Indeed the film starts with a terrific verbal gag, of an English teacher doing a Ecoutez & Repetez exercise gets her charges to slowly start repeating a fiendishly complicated limerick (1.54 in the video at the bottom). But this balance between clever idea and silly execution is a constant in Rumba, at the heart of it the physical and droll slapstick manoeuvres of Fiona Gordon and Dom Abel (leads, writers and directors along with Bruno Romy).