Now in his 100th year, Manoel de Oliveira tries on realist author Eca de Queiroz for size and finds, in "Eccentricities of a Blond Hair Girl," that there's still plenty of symbolism to be mined even in the 19th-century's most naturalistic author.
Now in his 100th year, Manoel de Oliveira tries on realist author Eca de Queiroz for size and finds, in “Eccentricities of a Blond Hair Girl,” that there’s still plenty of symbolism to be mined even in the 19th-century’s most naturalistic author. Those familiar with the master’s airtight tableaux and controlled line-delivery won’t find much has changed in the switch to Zola-like territory, updated to the present and told as a flashback by an earnest man discovering his love didn’t deserve his adulation. Euro fests and cinematheques will appreciate the idiosyncrasies of “Eccentricities.”
Macario (Ricardo Trepa) confides his secrets to a stranger (Leonor Silveira) on a train. He was smitten when he first spied sensual Luisa (Catarina Wallenstein) in the window across from his office, coquettishly toying with a Chinese fan. Romance developed, but his employer/uncle Francisco (Diogo Doria) refused to sanction such sentiment, and Macario took a lucrative offer in the Cape Verde Islands to make his fortune. On returning to Lisbon, he finds his generosity has created another stumbling block. The dreamlike quality of recollection gives Oliveira’s mannered diorama style additional context.