Eccentricities of a Blond Hair Girl

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.

With:
With: Ricardo Trepa, Catarina Wallenstein, Diogo Doria, Julia Buisel, Leonor Silveira, Luis Miguel Cintra, Gloria de Matos, Filipe Vargas, Rogerio Samora, Miguel Guilherme, Rogerio Vieira.

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.

Eccentricities of a Blond Hair Girl

Portugal-France-Spain

Production: A Filmes do Tejo II (Portugal)/Les Films de l'Apres-Midi (France)/Eddie Saeta (Spain) production. (International sales: Pyramide, Paris.) Produced by Francois d'Artemare, Maria Joao Mayer, Luis Minarro. Executive producer, Jacques Arhex. Directed, written by Manoel de Oliveira, based on the short story by Eca de Queiroz.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), Sabine Lancelin; editors, Oliveira, Catherine Krassovsky; production designers, Christian Marti, Jose Pedro Penha; costume designer, Adelaide Maria Trepa. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Berlinale Special), Feb. 9, 2009. Portuguese dialogue. Running time: 63 MIN.

With: With: Ricardo Trepa, Catarina Wallenstein, Diogo Doria, Julia Buisel, Leonor Silveira, Luis Miguel Cintra, Gloria de Matos, Filipe Vargas, Rogerio Samora, Miguel Guilherme, Rogerio Vieira.

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