“Lent” is visually ravishing but annoyingly elliptical. Portuguese film tells a conventional story of infidelity and regret, but co-writer and director Jose Alvaro Morais withholds far too much information and the end result is a lack of involvement and increasing frustration for the audience. Commercial prospects are tepid at best.
David (Filipe Cary) is about to leave Lisbon with his wife and daughter to live and work in Denmark when his grandfather dies. The funeral takes place at the gracious country estate where David grew up. David goes to the funeral and then extends his short time at the estate when he becomes attracted to Ana (Beatriz Batarda), the wife of his cousin. The young woman, however, is obviously mentally disturbed.
After spending a night with Ana, David returns to his wife, but six months later Ana turns up in Denmark. There, she appears content to work as an unpaid baby-sitter for the couple. The cause of Ana’s illness and her motivation remain obscure.
Most viewers will have difficulty generating much interest in either of the main characters, who remain stubbornly one-dimensional. David seems selfish and foolish, as he betrays both his wife and Ana.
Photography by Acacio de Almeida is fine, both in the warm, burnished Portuguese scenes and the starker, chill Danish sequences, and the production is handsome in every respect. The actors do the best they can to breathe life into their shallow characters.