Written and directed by the triumvirate of Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon and Bruno Romy, Rumba is a deadpan Belgian tragi-comedy, in which the clowning of the characters goes hand-in-hand with a series of disastrous setbacks in their lives.
Happily married Fiona (Gordon) and Dom (Abel) are Latin dance-loving teachers in Normandy, who on returning victorious from a dancing competition suffer a car-crash. She has to have a leg amputated, and he develops permanent amnesia. Their problems have only just begun, however: they can no longer teach, their house burns down, and Dom disappears one day when popping to the bakery.
Dialogue and music are kept to the barest of minimums in the brightly coloured Rumba, and the filmmakers favour static shots, which allow viewers to concentrate on the movements of the performers within the frame. The film’s absurdist humour often emerges directly from the misfortunes stoically endured by Fiona and Dom: attempting to bend down on crutches at school, she finds herself falling out of an open window, while later it’s her wooden limb that helps fuel the domestic conflagration. At times individual sequences feel over-stretched but the physically expressive performances of Abel and Gordon are appealing throughout.
(PG) 76 mins Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Tue 4-Thu 6 Aug.