With the Portuguese virtually force-fed American product, Portuguese cinema gets a bad press locally. It gets hardly any at all internationally, apart perhaps for Manoel de Oliveira, much loved on the art-house circuit.
So it's refreshing to be able to recommend a Portuguese film now and then. In the last couple of years there have been quite a few as the Portuguese film-makers begin to realize that there's an audience out there wanting films that entertain.
'Salomé' is just such a film. Set in the early 20th Century, it centres on Judite, a warm-hearted prostitute, played by the lovely Margarida Miranda, who gets a bit of luck and a chance to get out of the (very well depicted) brothel she 'works' in when banker Nicolau Breyner (excellent!) takes a shine to her.
Her life then begins a headlong rush towards a tragic finale that takes in political shenanigans and the Fátima apparitions along the way, suggesting an intriguing theory for the latter story.
It's all beautifully designed, the performances are uniformly good and the story is coherent and touching. This is Portuguese cinema at its best, and while it may not tempt too many Portuguese away from their staple diet of Hollywood blockbusters, it certainly deserves to, and is a massive step in the right direction.
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