|THE PORTUGUESE NUN (A RELIGIOSA PORTUGUESA) (director/writer: Eugene Green; cinematographer: Raphäel O’Byrne; editor: Valérie Loiseleux; cast: Leonor Baldaque (Julie de Hauranne), Eugene Green (Denis Verde), Ana Moreira (Irmä Joana), Adrien Michaux (Martin Dautand), Beatriz Batarda (Madalena), Diogo Dória (D. Henrique Cunha Mello de Lencastre), Carloto Cotta (D. Sebastião), Francisco Mozos (Vasco); Runtime: 127; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Luís Urbano/Sandro Aguilar; Artificial Eye/Fusion Media; 2009-Portugal/France-in Portuguese and French, with English subtitles)|
|"Superior, elegant, distinctive,
formalistic, unconventional art film."
by Dennis Schwartz
New York-born French filmmaker Eugene Green ("The
Bridge of Arts"/"La Sapienza"/"Toutes les Nuits")
writes and directs this superior, elegant,
distinctive, formalistic, unconventional art
film--a love letter to Lisbon and a homage to the
great elderly Portuguese director Manoel de
Oliveira. Green's tableaux compositions are
Ozu-like, his vista shots of Lisbon are stunningly
beautiful. It's one of those intelligent
acquired taste films, which I gravitated to.
tells of a young dedicated French actress, Julie
de Hauranne (Leonor Baldaque),
searching for her roots, whose father is French Basque
and deceased mom Portuguese. The single Julie
returns to Lisbon, a city she left at an early age for
Porto and then grew up in Paris. Therefore she has
little memories and no friends here. Julie comes to
Lisbon for a few days to finish shooting a film with
another actor, Martin (Adrien Michaux).
It's a film lifted from a nun's love letters about
Julie's 17th century Portuguese nun, Mariana, who was
seduced by Martin's French naval officer. Besides the
film crew, there's only the director Denis Verde (Eugene
Green, the film's director). When not reading
her lines, Julie behaves as a tourist strolling around
the city and shows a fascination for the positive
energy Lisbon gives off. Though she should be sad that
she recently broke off a relationship with a French
actor, Julie finds that on the contrary she is happy.
walking around a garden area Julie befriends the
lonely polite six-year-old Vasco (Francisco
Mozos), an orphan, and in her short stay
will speak with his kindly but harried guardian aunt (Beatriz
Batarda) to learn why he isn't at school
and locked out of the house while she's at work.
Dining alone in a fancy restaurant, Julie encounters
the suicidal middle-aged lonely-heart wealthy
courteous son of Count Viseu (Diogo Dória)
and gives him some temporary comfort so he can resume
his peaceful life. Later Julie has a revealing dinner
date with her low-key handsome married co-star Martin.
When Martin returns to Paris, Julie is intrigued by
the absurd romantic come-on of a local named D.
Sebastião (Carloto Cotta),
who is tagged by her because of his name as the
reincarnation of a dead king from 400 years ago. Even
the director, in the film within the film,
half-heartedly tries to seduce her by taking her out
for a night on the town. Julie's most consequential
and problematical encounter is with the God-stricken
Sister Joana (Ana Moreira), who
by day resides at the nearby convent but at night
stays awake all night praying at the chapel near the
hotel where Julie is staying. Their crisp exchange is
a game-changer, as Julie groks what the Sister says
that 'we carry inside us the child of our love' and as
a result changes her aimless life and reaches for her
with artificial artifices, an absurdist wit, quirky
conversations and bon mots such as 'I always want to
be what I am not,' the sincere arthouse pic, lovable
despite all its religious ploys, suggests we're all
tourists in the ever changing world, that art and
religion must merge with life and that God's truth can
be delivered in unreal things just like it can be in a
movie. Thereby the actress playing the nun for a movie
is just as real in her role as the real-life nun. ...
It makes sense to me, and registered.
REVIEWED ON 10/8/2014 GRADE: A
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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