Though not quite a train wreck (the tech package is pedestrian rather than bad), Bille August’s “Night Train to Lisbon” feels like a relic of the good ol’ Europudding days. Oscillating between unimaginative and tedious, with far too many actors phoning it in, this German-Swiss-produced, English-language adaptation of Helvetian philosopher-author Pascal Mercier’s bestseller, about a dreary Bern professor investigating a love triangle in Salazar-era Portugal, at times feels like a filmed conference call. Small-change Euro theatrical releases will precede a high-speed connection to the discount bins.
A professor of Swiss and (incongruously) Anglophone classics, Raimund Gregorius (Jeremy Irons), who confesses even he thinks he’s boring, prevents a woman (Sarah Spale-Buehlmann) from jumping off a bridge. A book in her pocket leads to the Lisbon home of Adriana (Charlotte Rampling), who’s Ken-doll-handsome brother, novelist-doctor Amadeu (Jack Huston, in flashbacks), was involved in undermining Salazar’s regime with his best friend (August Diehl), until a smart beauty (Melanie Laurent) came between them. Waffly rather than talky and entirely devoid of tension, the pic makes the Portuguese Resistance look about as dangerous as eating a pastel de nata.