On a train to the Algarve, Macário tells his story to a sympathetic woman he's just met. In flashbacks he arrives in Lisbon to work as an accountant and a broker for his uncle. From his office window, he sees a young woman, Luísa: he's intrigued and finds her beautiful; she holds a Chinese fan near her face. He arranges to meet her, and they fall in love. When he tells his uncle he wants to marry, not only does his uncle disapprove, he fires Macário who then leaves his uncle's home to live on his own. Penniless, he takes a job in Cape Verde to earn some money so Luísa and he can wed. Will she wait, and what of her peculiarities? His seatmate on the train wants the whole story. Written by
This partly fairytale-like, partly almost surrealist movie is a little gem about gain, loss and regain, about how far one comes in being honest. It is amazing in many respects, as usually with the films of Manoel De Oliveira, and absolutely unique. E.g., the communication between Macário and Luísa takes mostly place between windows. Windows as such are compromises, openings of a wall which separate the inside from the outside, in-between-land that belongs to nowhere. Then the story obviously sets in a noble and stylistically rigid society, possibly in the 19th century, in which the novel had been written. But suddenly you see a computer screen and people paying in Euro. While Ricardo Trêpa, nephew of the director, and Leonor Silveira belong to the director's film-family, Catarina Wallenstein (who has not much to say and nothing special to act) is a true surprise, doubtlessly one of the most beautiful women ever having appeared on the silver screen, yet completely unknown hitherto outside of Portugal.
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