7.0/10
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1 user 12 critic

Goodnight Irene (2008)

Two solitary men embark on a journey to find a missing woman, driven by friendship, a desire for freedom, and a wish to taste life to the fullest.
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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Alex
...
Bruno
...
Irene
Amadeu Caronho ...
Armando
Virgilio Gança ...
Afonso
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Paolo Marinou-Blanco
Bernardo Mendonça
Carlos Saltão
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Storyline

Two solitary men embark on a journey to find a missing woman, driven by friendship, a desire for freedom, and a wish to taste life to the fullest.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

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Details

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Release Date:

15 May 2008 (Portugal)  »

Also Known As:

Buona notte Irene  »

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Budget:

€1,000,000 (estimated)
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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Alex: You know, if you get too good at surviving, you might forget what you're doing it for...
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User Reviews

 
An incredibly assured and affecting feature debut from writer and director Paolo Marinou-Blanco.
16 February 2011 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

For me, this beautifully understated and deceptively simple film was the discovery of the Festival - an incredibly assured and affecting feature debut from writer and director Paolo Marinou-Blanco.

Having long been a fan of Welsh actor Robert Pugh, it's a real treat to see him in a lead role as ex-pat Brit Alex, emotionally closed down and marking time in Lisbon - and he delivers an outstanding performance; intense, poignant and frequently very, very funny. Notwithstanding some powerful speeches plundered from a variety of classic plays (Pugh's character Alex was once an actor) Marinou-Blanco is generally sparse with both his own dialogue and his direction, making the most of the silences and never letting anything outstay its welcome.

In the writing, Marinou-Blanco has also achieved something that (apparently) few others can manage: representing two nationalities without either falling back on caricature or cliché. It also carefully avoids becoming a piece that relies on a clash of cultures or stock 'fish out of water' situations. Culture is here shown to be a more subtle, shifting, ungraspable entity than those dramas would suggest - and this is about alienation of a deeper kind.

The photography is stunning, making Lisbon at once beautiful and oppressive, and there are occasional images that, while entirely naturalistic, haunt you like something from a dream (Alex's encounter with a pack of dogs in a town square at night has a particularly weird resonance, like a glimpse of Hades).

Marinou-Blanco has set himself a tough brief here, tackling the Really Big Questions - a challenge that can so often lead to cynicism or pretentiousness (or both). But it's a trap he never falls into, partly because he finds genuine delight in the everyday and the ordinary, but also because he never loses sight of the need for humour (both for the characters and the audience).

Some of the most important journeys take place without going anywhere, and Alex's begins long before he leaves his apartment - a point made more ironic by his dismal job of recording voice-overs for travelogues of places he has never been while shut in a recording booth at home (his 'cell').

A beautiful, fun, yet nonetheless deeply moving film that demonstrates with absolute conviction and clarity that life is more about the search than the finding.


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