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By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
Eccentricities of a Blond Hair Girl
Directed by Manoel de Oliveira
Pyramid 09/09 DVD/VHS Feature Film
Macario (Ricardo Trepa) is a handsome young man from Lisbon who is on a long train ride. He decides to share a troubling experience that has been weighing heavy on his soul to the woman (Leonor Silveira) seated next to him. Sometimes it is easier to tell a stranger intimacies that we would never tell family members or friends.
It all begins on day when he is working for his uncle Francisco (Diogo Doria) as an accountant in his fabric store. Looking out his open window, he sees a middle-age woman open her window and leave. Then a stunningly beautiful younger woman (Catarina Wallenstein) catches his gaze and stands there waving her Chinese fan seductively. He is entranced by the beauty and the grace of the moment. The stranger on the train surmises: "It was then that you fell in love." Macario admits that this is exactly what happened to him.
Through a friend, this determined young man finds out that her name is Luisa and that she will be attending a social gathering with her mother. They meet, and he is even more taken with her. But when Macario tells Francisco that he wants to marry her, he is told that he can't. His uncle fires him and suddenly this lover finds himself both seduced by Luisa and abandoned by his relative. He takes a job in far away the Cape Verde Islands in order to make enough money to marry the woman of his dreams. When he returns, there are more challenges and surprises to handle.
This quaint morality tale by Portuguese filmmaker Manoel de Oliveira (Belle Toujours) is based on a short story by Eca de Queiroz. It conveys the dangers of love sickness based on impulsive feelings and irrational attachment. The drama unfolds slowly, and we identify with Macario's plight as he mistakes romantic infatuation for love. It is an old and much repeated story and de Oliveira delivers it with simple clarity and clout.
Screened at the 47th New York Film Festival, September 2009
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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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