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José e Pilar
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Reviews & Ratings for
José and Pilar More at IMDbPro »José e Pilar (original title)

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12 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

not a documentary, a love story. not based in real facts, real facts

Author: helenagmartins from Porto, Portugal
8 September 2011

José e Pilar isn't (just?) a documentary, it's a well crafted story that no one wrote, that unfolded as the 4 years of filming passed by.

You won't just see the Nobel award winner José Saramago, his love for writing and the tremendous respect for the people he wrote for. You will see first hand and for real how two people can be so in sync, so complementary and yet so different.

And how life spins more and faster than the Earth. How some people actually do live forever. And how people sometimes take a long time to find their calling and their true love.

Corny as it may sound said by me, you'll find nothing but beauty in this film.

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10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

An extraordinary life lesson

Author: Fabio Kestenbaum from Brazil
16 September 2011

José & Pilar is one of the best documentaries out there, no doubt about it. The Director Miguel Gonçalves was able to put together Saramago's soul and life, comprising the importance of Pilar del Río in Saramago's world. Saramago's struggle to fight the right battles and live his life in accordance with his believes are extraordinary lessons of humanity and social sensibility. Moreover, Pilar's role in Saramago's life and her love for him are simply unique. The mixture of romance and wisdom gives the tone of the movie and it is a privilege to watch the Literature Noble Prize Winner in his intimacy, following his day by day routine, surrounded by his books, lover and, of course, the ocean... The volcanic island shoots are amazing! To sum up, the documentary is outstanding and deserves top score. I doubt anyone thinks otherwise...

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11 out of 12 people found the following review useful:


Author: joaotatocosta from Portugal
5 September 2011

I'm a José Saramago reader for about 15 years. This documentary it's just mind blowing. I saw it we my girlfriend and at the end I find myself thinking that the love between José and Pilar was a beautiful thing to see. In this documentary, you can really understand what about a relationship should really be. Fernando Meirelles did a great job showing everyone how brilliant and talented José Saramago was. I think everyone will be really touched with their love: "If I died at 63 before I meet Pilar, I would died a lot older then I am right now..." hi said. Really miss his books. "I think we are blind. Blind people who can see, but do not see" J.Saramago

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

crossed roads

Author: ruiresende84 ( from Porto, Portugal
17 August 2011

It's so hard to make an engaging documentary. The usual process is to make the facts of stories you're supposed to be told into a coherent narrative line, even if in reality that line isn't so clear. That will provide the audiences with a story, something to follow. But how you follow that story is usually in a more external way than how you watch fiction, because in documentary you can't or won't have the same devices to fold you into the thing. You have always that trick on reenact some stuff, if the theme is history. That's lame to me, and lazy.

Now here you have something really interesting. The film shows us countless excerpts of the lives of the 2 protagonists throughout the course of about 2 years. The film is presented as a reportage, more than a documentary, meaning that images are what you make of it, words come up apparently loosely. No bent narrative is delivered to you. Or so it seems.

Underneath this apparently random display of images, there's a subtle layered structure. The life of the couple José/Pilar in the period of the film mapped to the story of the elephant in the book Saramago is writing. The story that this film displays mapped into the larger story of Saramago's life, with all its weight in the story of literature and Portuguese culture, as we get it in between the lines in several moments of the narrative. The whole idea of journey and encounter mapped into the love story of José and Pilar.

And ultimately, as the title denounces, that story is central here. The idea of a pair of people bound by the art of one of them, who chooses to share it, allow the other half to be a part of it. Live as one, that's the beautiful part of the story. I'm glad they chose to share a bit of that story with as, by allowing us to get into it.

His art matters. He is a humanist, has profound ideas, truly powerful ideas, and changed language, invented a new way on which people can express.

There is one moment when the metaphor for journey mapped into people's lives is perfect: in Saramago's hometown, one street has his name, another street which crosses the other one has her name. Crossed paths.

My opinion: 4/5

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

A Beautiful Love Story

Author: Mariana Pimentel ( from Santo António dos Cavaleiros, Portugal
25 September 2011

José Saramago's figure was outstanding. One had to read his books till the end. But, most fascinating was his relationship with a more outstanding woman, Pilar del Rio. This tender documentary really shows us the ties that put them together along the years. A love story that outfits time and space. A real thing. The director shows us the daily routine of José and Pilar and the tenderness of gestures, beyond words. One understands very well what they felt for each other from the day they first met till the death of Saramago and the desire of Pilar to fulfill a true wish: to have his ashes divided in Lanzarote and Portugal, the founding of a Foundation in Lisboa, and the visits to his birthplace Azinheira do Ribatejo.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Personal opinion, José Saramago's short introduction

Author: Ruben Rodrigues from Portugal
5 September 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

José+Pilar Is a real scenes movie, about real love. An extreme felling, a felling of love for the spouse and everyone else, shown during the writing of a legacy without rest. "For the over 20 years", by José Saramago (Nobel-laureate novelist). A man born in the middle of nowhere, in a '20s Portugal who became a self- made man, a pure soul.

I loved to see some epic ideals expressed in video (about life and death), as well as Saramago's repeated answers to the repeated questions made by the media.

In Portugal, the movie ran on public television in prime-time, and that was an unusual fact.

The scenes has a very interesting rhythm and music.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Love has no age barriers

Author: marques-mendes from Ilhavo, Portugal
23 September 2011

The Portuguese Nobel Laureate José Saramago was never an easy writer or agreeable public figure. Moreover, his political inclinations, a mixture of Iberism and Communism, were quite the opposite of mine. So I must admit that I sat down to watch the documentary with some degree of prejudice.

However the opening and the quality of the photography captivated me immediately and I could not stop wandering how the Director managed to make such a remarkably enjoyable documentary with such persona.

It certainly helped the fact that his young wife – Pilar – is such a lively and interesting person. She is the personification of the vibrant qualities we find among modern Spaniards. But what captivated me more was how she could devote herself so intensely to an elderly and sick husband.

The Director, being himself an admirer of José, did not attempt to color or capture only the rosy moments of the Portuguese writer. He gives a truthful and yet endearing image of the couple.

The secret probably lies in the way he manages to show that love knows no age barriers. Undoubtedly, this is an Oscar-winning candidate.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

the lifetime of a love

Author: nelsonesq from Hamburg
23 October 2011

It's all very easy to reduce a documentary like this to just that: a documentary. I like to think of it as a window, nay, a door. I'm Portuguese and, beside a theatre play my dad bought for me and made me stand in line to have it signed by Saramago when I was a child, I never managed to enjoy reading his books. Loved the stories, struggled with the novels.

So, it was a huge surprise when I discovered this man, playful and witty as dense and morose; when I discovered his wife, thus far a very behind-the-scenes person, very outspoken but seldom seen; and the mere thought of having heaps of footage and manage to edit years of shadowing the couple to a mere two hours, seamlessly stitched together.

I couldn't help but feel deeply moved by the episodes the film depicts, the portraits the camera takes all the way through time and the love story between a rather senior Portuguese writer and a rather younger Spanish journalist. In Portugal, we say, 'love knows no age.' It does, actually. However, it knows no time. And that's what 'José And Pilar' tells us.

I fell compelled to send a copy to all my friends who, as I, live outside Portugal. It really is that good. Watch it and make sure you take it all in.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A story that should be written in a book

Author: Silvia Lopes from Portugal
24 October 2011

This is a story about love and about truth.

The honesty starts behind the camera - Miguel Gonçalves Mendes captured that truth as if he wasn't there. And therefore, he was, inside and aside. That is exactly what gives us this enormous feeling of getting to know the intimate being of one of the greatest writers of all times: Saramago and his Pilar.

There's something curious about the movie title "José and Pilar" - "pilar" (as "pillar") in Portuguese means "firm, upright, insulated support for a superstructure".

Pilar was indeed the pillar for Saramago. And so was he to her the other way around, as in great love stories must be.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Too good for Hollywood!

Author: joseceles from Spain
30 December 2011

José & Pilar is a charming film that shows what the collaboration between Spain and Portugal is capable of producing. It's a shame joint efforts of this type are not more regularly forthcoming. Although it is Saramago who enjoys international renown, the film cannot be considered a hagiographic and exclusive tribute to the figure of the author. Saramago's Spanish better half, Pilar del Río occupies an equally important part. She is never overshadowed by her husband; an equal amount of that footage that does not feature the two together is very equally devoted to each individually. Thus we discover how irreplaceable Pilar had made herself in José's life as a companion, a translator, a personal secretary organizing his hectic agenda outside of those hours devoted to his literary production, a lifelong admirer and defender of his work. Any Portuguese or Spaniard who adheres to the ideals of Iberism ─ a romantic ambition to live in an Iberian Peninsula where the two countries would merge with Lisbon as its capital would find in this film the materialization of its theories. Spanish and Portuguese are the languages spoken in equal doses throughout the film, the director, Miguel Gonçalves Mendes, is Portuguese, Pedro Almodóvar is one of the various producers; the film takes us back and forth from Lanzarote in Spain where José and Pilar reside, to Lisbon or Azinhaga, Saramago's town of birth. All elements combine to create an atmosphere of total naturalness as far as being Spanish or Portuguese is concerned. Even the union between José and Pilar could be taken for a metaphor of that union between the two countries that republicans and left-wingers and romantics have worked toward. But apart from these minor observations, the core of the film is the life of the author as a creator, his ups and downs with the Portuguese government, which led to his self-exile in Lanzarote, his continuous and exhausting travels to the four corners of the earth to promote his books, attend book fairs, participate in congresses and sign copies bought by his readers and his refusal, considering his age, to simply sit down and take it easy. As he gets older the need to carry on working acquires the urgency of one who knows that death is on his tail. Above all the film is a testimony to the deep love José and Pilar profess for each other. It's not a love that manifests itself in words but rather tender gestures, mutual respect, clasping hands, the loving tone of voice used when addressing each other and at all times a love that transmits itself through the looks they proffer each other. It is truly moving the way the director has captured so much complicity and intimacy. A very surprising element in the film is Saramago's very peculiar sense of humour which Pilar often reacts to with no inferior sense of fun. The public watching this film at the Filmoteca in Madrid had a lot of laughs and as the film's credits started appearing indicating that the film had reached its end, there was a very generous round of applause for an enthralling documentary that kept us glued to our seats for close to two hours. José & Pilar was entered by Portugal in an unsuccessful bid to get it nominated in the Best Foreign Film category of the Oscars. This film is most likely not commercial enough for Hollywood. I would go even further and add that it's too good for Hollywood.

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