Eccentricities of a Blonde-Haired Girl


Drama / Romance

IMDb Rating 6.2 10 1612

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Uploaded By: FREEMAN
April 04, 2021 at 06:03 AM


582.86 MB
Portuguese 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 3 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Chris Knipp 8 / 10

Old-fashioned storytelling, stylish but odd

This measured-paced tale (Singularidades de uma Rapariga Loura) by the Portuguese master, who's now over 100 years old, is from a short story by 19th-century 'realist' Eça de Queiroz. In De Oliveira's treatment, the story gains a surreal feeling and its basic structure makes it seem rather like a fairy-tale or fable. In the frame setting, the protagonist, Macário (Ricardo Trêpa) sits next to an elegant middle-aged lady (Leonor Silveira) on a train to Algarve and tells her he is unhappy and he will tell her why. She says she's all ears and the story begins.

In Lisbon, Macário had an orderly, somewhat pampered existence, living with his uncle Francisco (Diogo Dória) and working as the accountant upstairs above the uncle's attached textile business.

And then one day Macário sees a beautiful blond woman in the window opposite, waving a Chinese fan, and he falls hopelessly in love with her. She is Luisa (Catarina Wallerstein), and she lives with her mother (Júlia Buisel). Macário goes to some trouble to be introduced to Luísa, and is tongue-tied, but she immediately responds and takes him in tow.

Very shortly Macário asks Tio Francisco's permission to marry. But his uncle refuses point blank. Macário says he'll marry anyway. "Then you're fired," Francisco says, "and get out of my house. Now." The hero moves to a tiny room and soon runs out of money, unable to get a job with anyone he knows, because potential employers don't want to displease his uncle. Macário seizes an opportunity to go and work in the Cape Verde islands and comes back with a fortune. Luísa has waited for him, but his generosity to a friend causes him to be duped and he loses his whole Cape Verde nest egg. Though his uncle reverses his positions and asks him back, a desire for independence leads Macário to return to the islands for another lucrative stint. But after all this he ends by discovering Luisa was not worthy of him in the first place.

The film-making here is elegant and beautiful, and the abruptness and cruelty of events call to mind Patrice Chéreau's stunning 19th-century tale 'Gabrielle' (2005) -- which, however, has more emotional power, a richer mise-en-scène, and more three-dimensional characters.

We are clearly in the Old Europe in 'Eccentricities,' with its old-fashioned interiors, spacious, geometrical street scenes and big windows with well-lit views. One particularly lovely shot shows a large mirror with a stairway and rooms behind it, all suffused in a golden light. The simplicity and austerity of the film are enhanced by having no music, except for a harp played at a chamber concert at the home of a wealthy man (a scene again somewhat reminiscent of 'Gabrielle').

The word "eccentricities" is ironic, but the film has its own eccentricities, since the action has a distinct 19th-century quality but prices are in euros and clothes and accoutrements are 21st-century (if not obtrusively so). Also strange is much of the behavior; motivations are never clear. Why does Macário fall in love so fast? Why is he in his uncle's charge? Why does his uncle refuse -- but later reverse himself? Nothing is revealed about Luísa, except for her superficial appeal and coquettish allure. Her perpetual Chinese fan makes her more a symbol or a motif than a real young woman. All of this might make more sense if set more distinctly in the period of the writer, but it is still stylized storytelling rather than Zola-esquire 19th-century realism. What does it mean then to say Eça de Queiroz was a 'realist' writer? Though fascinating for its composure and elegance, the film seems largely a curiosity.

A selection of the 2009 New York Film Festival and seen at Lincoln Center as part of the festival.

Reviewed by RNQ 7 / 10

Don't be seen to fidget

I've given this film a respectful score, if only because it is like being privileged to visit a grande dame in her home, where everything is correct and so boring you want to tell it point by point to your friends, who you hope are aware that you are not boring yourself. And I'd like to suppose the film is similarly ironic about its bland characters (a lover in the Cape Verde Islands who writes out for his young woman their physical geography, as my encyclopedia would call it). Its argument may be about the boring eternity of the upper bourgeoisie even in our world where the same fine things are now paid for in euros. But the film may fall into its own trap, as with the titles that let a conductor go seat by seat in a first-class train car checking tickets while credits very slowly appear. Viewer, your attention might stray to what may be outside the windows, but notice the lady with the pearl necklace, for she will be the perfect audience for this touching story. The best hope for irony might be a poem or two of Pessoa's, even if recited by a distinguished actor in evening dress.

Reviewed by semiotechlab-658-95444 10 / 10

A filmed metaphysics of film

This partly fairytale-like, partly almost surrealist movie is a little gem about gain, loss and regain, about how far one comes in being honest. It is amazing in many respects, as usually with the films of Manoel De Oliveira, and absolutely unique. E.g., the communication between Macário and Luísa takes mostly place between windows. Windows as such are compromises, openings of a wall which separate the inside from the outside, in-between-land that belongs to nowhere. Then the story obviously sets in a noble and stylistically rigid society, possibly in the 19th century, in which the novel had been written. But suddenly you see a computer screen and people paying in Euro. While Ricardo Trêpa, nephew of the director, and Leonor Silveira belong to the director's film-family, Catarina Wallenstein (who has not much to say and nothing special to act) is a true surprise, doubtlessly one of the most beautiful women ever having appeared on the silver screen, yet completely unknown hitherto outside of Portugal.

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