Dir. Manoel de Oliveiria. Portugal. France. 2009.

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The 102 year old film-maker de Oliveira, so often making films that push the limits of cinema occupancy (once touching 7 hours with one release), has seemingly found a spring in his ageing feet.  Adapting a short story from Portugal's most famous 19th Century author Eca de Queiroz, and in so adapting a short story has given it a fleeting 64 minute running time contemplating young love and the curve ball it can throw you at the end.
Utilising the device of having Macario (Ricardo Trepa) recite the story of the events that have happened in the previous few months , to a female passenger on a train as he exiles himself from Lisbon, allows the flashback to have its place and be the truth and reality de Oliveira strives for.  The flashback is broken up only when Macario feels it necessary (unusually his travelling companion finds it hard to look at him seemingly), to elaborate as to why he fell head over heels with Luisa (Catarina Wallenstein, in her first lead role), a girl on the other side of the street from his office veranda - and only ask for her hand in marriage once he has his own finances in order (considering he is an accountant you think he would have).  This is a film of its time, with characters mentioning the economic climate and Macario referring to himself as 'poor as a bank'.
The pacing of the film coupled with effective editing of a skyline from day to night and vice versa to connote the changing of time and Macario's recollection of the story.  While it can be admired that old-fashioned romantic notions are attempting to be introduced into this 21st century, this yearning for formality and chivalry will inevitably come back and bite you on the behind. The twist at the end can be construed as abrupt, but in the twists of life and love nowadays it is more ideal to think of it as appropriate.  It is certainly appropriate to marvel at the determination of de Oliveira to still be making films that are attentive to detail and distinguished in its execution.
RELEASED: August 6th by New Wave Films.
Jamie Garwood

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