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The Portuguese Nun

5 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

‘The Portuguese Nun’ is French writer-director Eugène Green’s love letter to Lisbon. His reverence for the city's history, architecture, skyline and music inspires this meandering tale of nervy, French-Portuguese actress Julie (Leonor Baldaque) and the epiphanies she experiences while filming a series of silent tableaux to illustrate a recitation of the anonymous French seventeenth-century text, ‘Letters of a Portuguese Nun’. Now, if your trusty pretention-o-meter is already overheating, then just switch it right off, as the tone Green adopts here is one of almost childlike sincerity dashed, of course, with a strain of delicate, absurdist humour.

This is Green’s fourth feature, and his first to receive UK distribution. It’s constructed in his customary style that draws heavily on the sort of clipped, neutral non-performance favoured by Bresson and the crisp, flat-on compositions of Ozu. The film is an exercise in economy and yet swells with romance and mystery. Baldaque’s huge, olive-green eyes are her primary acting tool, and Green allows his camera to drink in their gaze. We drift around the city, as one scene melts in to the next and Julie’s search for meaning takes in her co-star, a suicidal local, a displaced child, the reincarnation of a dead king and the director of her film (Green himself). Radiant, perplexing and distinctive, Green’s world is a place where art and life converge: it’s an enchanting place in which to get lost.

Release Details

  • Release date:Friday 21 January 2011
  • Duration:127 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:Eugène Green
  • Cast:
    • Leonor Baldaque
    • Adrien Michaux
    • Beatriz Batarda
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