This Portuguese adaptation of Madame Bovary - or rather a poetic meditation on the novel by Augustina Bessa-Luis - is encased in a hypnotic atmosphere, both melancholic and tranquil. Ema (Silveira), orphaned at six, house-bound till 14, grows up in a bourgeois family in the unchanging vine-terraced Duoro valley. She's slightly lame, but possesses a beauty which is 'exuberant and therefore dangerous'. Despite a taste for luxury, she marries a doctor who depends on her 'like a worm on soil'. She's twice unfaithful, but her only close bond is with a mute servant. In a world where 'the pleasures of hypocrisy exceed those of love', her spirit must die. Subtle, elegant, enigmatic, this movie by the veteran Oliveira exercises a powerful grip. Oliveira's style is hard to categorise (the director began making films in 1931): the timelessness of the modern-day setting, where the Lotuses and Maseratis seem so incongruous, is reminiscent of Resnais, but the languorous acting echoes the satiric irony of late Buñuel and the secretive minimalism of Bresson.