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The Portuguese Nun [DVD]
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Elegant, eccentric and absolutely captivating, this is simply a gem... one of the best films of the year.
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
One of the most critically acclaimed films of 2011 tells the story of a Julie, a young French actress shooting a film in Lisbon about a 17th Century nun who is seduced by a soldier. Among the city s enigmatic and transient inhabitants, she encounters a young Nun and the exchange between the two women changes Julie s destiny forever.
This absorbing drama is the fourth film by the acclaimed New York-born filmmaker Eugene Green and his first to be released in the UK.
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It is also one of those self-reflexive films about making a film (worthy predecessors include Singin' in the Rain and Fellini's Eight-and-a-Half). The story tells of Julie, a French actress in Lisbon to star in a film of a 17th century literary work called Love Letters of a Portuguese Nun. The director of the film-within-a-film, Eugene Green, also happens to be the film's director! Julie meets a real nun, has an intense 10-minute conversation (the key scene of the entire film), and her life is changed forever.
The very deliberate and mannered acting style will not appeal to all viewers, but for me it is perfectly judged. The characters speak similarly to those in an Ozu film, though a better reference-point might be the late films of Carl Dreyer.
Highly recommended for connoisseurs of the "slow cinema" movement, my only criticism of the DVD is that, apart from a trailer, there are no extras.
It is definitely not a fast moving action film, so if that is what you are looking for this is not for you. Just settle down in comfort, relax, and enjoy a leisurely immersion in the sights and folk music of Lisbon. It is a rewarding film, with a surprising ending, an ending which is, strangely, highly appropriate to what is happening in the UK today - but you have to pay close attention to what is being said.
The actress who plays Julie is mesmerising, as is the actress who plays the nun (although her part is shorter). Together they are rivetting. The little boy, is, of course, adorable.
This film deserves to be better know. I only came across it by accident, and I'm glad that I did.
On her walk around Lisbon Julie goes to a chapel where she sees a nun in prayer.She later has a significant dialogue with the nun about love and the way she seemed to mirror the life of the nun,and how being true to oneself made one truly alive.The film is shot with each person speaking directly into the camera as if the camera is the person they are speaking to.This is a slow,contemplative film which avoids speed or crowd scenes, although they a show people in a kind of disco dancing;or the camera crew are shown setting up a scene.Also Julie is seen getting a ride on a tram.But mainly the film concentrates on the walks of Julie.She sees her co-star ,Martin,off-camera,he is married but his relationship has lost its spark and so they agree to have sex and see each other when they get back to Paris.Julie attempts to call Paris where she knows a couple who may adopt him.However she is unable to contact them.She returns to the neighbour and discusses the idea of the boy returning with her to Paris for a holiday and her desire to adopt him,to everybody's agreement.This decision has been influenced by her talk with the nun.The film gives a sensory, ambulant view of the streets of Lisbon and the interiors of chapels or cafes by day and by night.There is a superb musical group playing fado music in one of the cafes,who play out a few numbers,which are very moving.
Leonor Baldaque(Julie) has the strange stare of a seeker after spiritual truth,with an empathy that draws in the lost souls she meets.We get the sense of pilgrimage from seeing a worm's eye view of people's feet walking to and fro.You get the sense from Eugene Green that to go into the future you need to go back to the past through a sense of parallel lives,plural identities,bilinguality.There is the idea that through falsity you can express the truth as Julie tells the nun she does in acting.Cinema can release hidden spiritual energy in material things, pluck out the spiritual from the ordinary.The nun's role is played with an extraordinary scene-stealing intensity.
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Best watched on x120 speed.. This allows you to note the staggering amount of time that the doe eyed actress is required to stare straight into the...Read more