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About an aging Swiss professor of classical languages who, after a chance encounter with a Portuguese woman, quits his job and travels to Lisbon in the hope of discovering the fate of a certain author, a doctor and poet who fought against Portuguese dictator Antonio de Oliveira Salazar. Written by
Mozart Sonata N. 12 F-Dur
Piano: 'Ferran Cruixent' (qv_
Scopre Mixer: 'Peter Fuchs'
Pro Tools Operator & Engineer Assistant: Tom Russbueldt (as Tom Russbüldt)
Recording & Mix Studio: Teldex Studio Berlin See more »
Jeremy Irons pieces together a story of Portuguese resistance to Salazar
"Night Train to Lisbon" tells two stories. One is the story that frames the movie, and that's about a middle-aged Swiss professor of ancient works, now divorced, who saves a young girl from suicide and then, upon finding a book of poetic thoughts in her coat, impulsively goes to Portugal to find out the fate of its author. The latter is the second story, which turns out to be about several young people involved in the resistance movement against Salazar in the 60s or so.
This movie draws in the viewer by its mystery, by its location filming in Lisbon, by the very fine performance of Irons, and by the solid work of its entire cast. There are no false notes. Irons, in particular, now reminding me somewhat of Boris Karloff, continues to demonstrate his extraordinary capacity to become a character without any obvious tricks of the trade that are visible.
The pace is deliberate, even slow at times. The overall mood, which is on the melancholic side, is lifted at times by the quick smiles and revealed emotions of Irons. The story of the resistance turns out to be mundane, and its telling by flashbacks equally so. Neither is the romantic element of Irons's life all that enthralling, since he is meant to be a colorless character. However, the climax of the story involving Irons, while subtle and not shown very dramatically, is likely to make the audience think and connect the dots of what the story is about. Irons makes this quite explicit in dialog near the end, where he contrasts his boring life to that of those young people who lived and had a cause. Of most interest is the focus on the poet-doctor (Amadeu) at the center, captured remarkably well by Jack Huston, and his sister, Charlotte Rampling, who is possessive of him, as well as his circle of resistance workers.
Irons is shown at the outset as a teacher of Latin or Latin classics perhaps, as his students read Marcus Aurelius. He underestimates his own position and worth in his calling. In this day and age, it is actually extraordinarily important to understand the past, including the classic era, so as to be able to understand the present. The Huston character understood this convergence, and that is a major theme. This moved him into acts of resistance. The good, kind and sensitive professor, having lost his wife and having no children, is attracted to the action of these past Portuguese youths and he looks for one of those actionable moments at which he can steer his life in a new direction and live it fully. This is another theme in the film. The thoughts of Amadeu reach down to Irons, who is ripe for a change. His impulsive trip leaves his classes to be taught by his supervisor who wants a decision from Irons. Will he return to his position or not? Life is at once poetic, mysterious, ineffable, uncertain and challenging, presenting a person with continuous points of decision and choice. There are currents without us and currents within us. There are complete unknowns as well, such as the the kinds of medical events in this story (choking on a piece of food and a brain aneurysm). The movie challenges viewers to understand their own lives as they see Irons confront his life and those of the young people of the past that excite his curiosity.
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