Portuguese-language drama from Cape Verde has crossover possibilities on the arthouse circuit, its crisp production values combining with an accessible story and fresh --- to Stateside audiences --- locations. Small Massachusetts-based distributor SPIA Media is targeting Portuguese-speaking communities to guarantee a base audience to build upon.

Portuguese-language drama from Cape Verde has crossover possibilities on the arthouse circuit, its crisp production values combining with an accessible story and fresh — to Stateside audiences — locations. Small Massachusetts-based distributor SPIA Media is targeting Portuguese-speaking communities to guarantee a base audience to build upon.

Based on the novel “Mr. Napumoceno’s Last Will and Testament,” by Cape Verdean author Germano Almeida, pic begins with the death of a wealthy local businessman (Nelson Xavier), who never married. When his will is read, his nephew Carlos (Chico Diaz) discovers that he has been disinherited and that a daughter (Maria Ceica) from an affair with a servant will instead get it all.

Bulk of film has daughter learning the story of the father she barely knew. It is this story of his successes and his regrets that is his true legacy to her.

As a meditation on life and the choices one makes, “Testamento” is touching, ably helped by Xavier’s wry performance. When, as an older man, he has an affair with a much younger woman (Karla Leal), he lets us see the romantic within, who realizes this may be his last chance at happiness.

Entire cast — unknown to Anglo audiences — is good, but Diaz must be singled out for an especially engaging performance as the duplicitous nephew. His character is the only real failure in the story, yet Diaz shows his strengths as well as his weaknesses.

Shot in Cape Verde, “Testamento” takes a universal story and gives it the added spice of a culture largely unknown to American audiences. Francisco Manso, whose previous work was primarily for Portuguese television, directs with a sure hand, getting the most from his tropical locations.

Testamento

Portuguese-Brazilian-Cape Verdean-French-Belgian

Production

An SPIA Media Prods. presentation. for Filmes Castello Lopes, of a Portuguese National Television/ADR Prods./Cobra Films/Cineluz Cinematographic Prods./ Cape Verdean Cinema Institute production. Executive producer, Jose Luis Vasconcelos. Directed by Francisco Manso. Screenplay, Mario Prata, based on the novel "Mr. Napumoceno's Last Will and Testament" by Germano Almeida.

Crew

Camera (color), Edgar Moura; editor, Luis Sobral; music, Tito Paris, Toy Vieira; production designer, Augusto Mayer; costume designer, Rosario Moreira; sound (Dolby), Carlos Alberto Lopes; assistant director, Joao Cayette; casting, Manso, Cayette, Joao Milagre. Reviewed at the Coolidge Corner Theater, Brookline, Mass., June 26, 1998. Running time: 108 MIN.

With

Napumoceno - Nelson Xavier
Graca - Maria Ceica
Carlos - Chico Diaz
Adelia - Karla Leal
Eduarda - Zeze Motta
Arminda - Cesaria Evora

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