Set in Portugal and taking full advantage of the nature and characteristics of the land and its people - at least in one particular provincial location of Arganil - this is a lovely and unusual little film. The style of filmmaking makes it sound a little obscure and intimidating - it's a mixture of documentary, commentary, improvisation and fictional drama with the filmmaking process opened up as well - but the end result is a fun and fascinating film that is not so different from the themes and subject matter of Xavier Giannoli's The Singer starring Gérard Depardieu.
Central to the storyline - such as it is - is Tânia, a young girl who sings in a cabaret band with her father and other relatives. She's becoming close to her cousin, but there's uncertainty about their romantic feelings for each other and it's complicated further by the close bond that exists between her and her father ever since her mother left them years ago. The actual nature of the fictional story isn't the most original or in-depth examination of the father/daughter relationship. It's got nothing on Ozu and something like Late Spring, but it's the actual nature of how this story is developed that makes Our Beloved Month of August rather more compelling.
Earlier, the filmmakers themselves feature, interviewing real-life and larger-than-life characters in the beautiful little provincial area, getting a feel for the lives of the people there, and through the almost documentary approach (fact blending with fiction however, it's not that straightforward or clear-cut), we gradually get to know the people, their background, culture, traditions and attitudes, and out of this, a story seems to rise naturally. Threading through it all however is music, much of it popular cabarets songs and sung by the characters themselves at various festivals and community events, or on the radio. The songs are catchy, poppy, a little bit cheesy, but they express other aspects of the people of the region, forming a part of who they are and how they see the world, bringing them together as a community. This creates many memorable moments and scenes, such as one impromptu drunken incident where challenges and views that might not otherwise be expressed are done so in song. The viewer can't help but be similarly drawn into being deeply interested in these characters and their lives.