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Eccentricities of a Blonde-Haired Girl (2009)

Singularidades de uma Rapariga Loura (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Romance | 6 August 2010 (USA)
A young man falls helplessly in love with a mysterious blonde woman who turns his life upside down.

Director:

Manoel de Oliveira

Writers:

Eça de Queirós (short story), Manoel de Oliveira (adaptation) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ricardo Trêpa ... Macário
Catarina Wallenstein ... Luísa
Diogo Dória Diogo Dória ... Francisco
Júlia Buisel Júlia Buisel ... D. Vilaça
Leonor Silveira Leonor Silveira ... Senhora
Luís Miguel Cintra Luís Miguel Cintra ... Himself
Glória de Matos Glória de Matos ... D. Sande
Filipe Vargas Filipe Vargas ... Amigo
Rogério Samora ... Chapéu de Palha
Miguel Guilherme ... Faleiro
Rogério Vieira Rogério Vieira
Paulo Matos Paulo Matos ... Desconhecido
António Reis António Reis ... Cónego Savedra
Miguel Seabra Miguel Seabra ... Notário
Luís Lima Barreto Luís Lima Barreto ... Desembargador
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Storyline

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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Portugal | Spain | France

Language:

Portuguese

Release Date:

6 August 2010 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Singularités d'une jeune fille blonde See more »

Filming Locations:

Lisbon, Portugal See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,500,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$22,979
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Ricardo Trêpa is the director's grandson See more »

Soundtracks

Arabesque No.1
for harp
By Claude Debussy
Performed by Ana Paula Miranda
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Old-fashioned storytelling, stylish but odd
22 September 2009 | by Chris KnippSee all my reviews

This measured-paced tale (Singularidades de uma Rapariga Loura) by the Portuguese master, who's now over 100 years old, is from a short story by 19th-century 'realist' Eça de Queiroz. In De Oliveira's treatment, the story gains a surreal feeling and its basic structure makes it seem rather like a fairy-tale or fable. In the frame setting, the protagonist, Macário (Ricardo Trêpa) sits next to an elegant middle-aged lady (Leonor Silveira) on a train to Algarve and tells her he is unhappy and he will tell her why. She says she's all ears and the story begins.

In Lisbon, Macário had an orderly, somewhat pampered existence, living with his uncle Francisco (Diogo Dória) and working as the accountant upstairs above the uncle's attached textile business.

And then one day Macário sees a beautiful blond woman in the window opposite, waving a Chinese fan, and he falls hopelessly in love with her. She is Luisa (Catarina Wallerstein), and she lives with her mother (Júlia Buisel). Macário goes to some trouble to be introduced to Luísa, and is tongue-tied, but she immediately responds and takes him in tow.

Very shortly Macário asks Tio Francisco's permission to marry. But his uncle refuses point blank. Macário says he'll marry anyway. "Then you're fired," Francisco says, "and get out of my house. Now." The hero moves to a tiny room and soon runs out of money, unable to get a job with anyone he knows, because potential employers don't want to displease his uncle. Macário seizes an opportunity to go and work in the Cape Verde islands and comes back with a fortune. Luísa has waited for him, but his generosity to a friend causes him to be duped and he loses his whole Cape Verde nest egg. Though his uncle reverses his positions and asks him back, a desire for independence leads Macário to return to the islands for another lucrative stint. But after all this he ends by discovering Luisa was not worthy of him in the first place.

The film-making here is elegant and beautiful, and the abruptness and cruelty of events call to mind Patrice Chéreau's stunning 19th-century tale 'Gabrielle' (2005) -- which, however, has more emotional power, a richer mise-en-scène, and more three-dimensional characters.

We are clearly in the Old Europe in 'Eccentricities,' with its old-fashioned interiors, spacious, geometrical street scenes and big windows with well-lit views. One particularly lovely shot shows a large mirror with a stairway and rooms behind it, all suffused in a golden light. The simplicity and austerity of the film are enhanced by having no music, except for a harp played at a chamber concert at the home of a wealthy man (a scene again somewhat reminiscent of 'Gabrielle').

The word "eccentricities" is ironic, but the film has its own eccentricities, since the action has a distinct 19th-century quality but prices are in euros and clothes and accoutrements are 21st-century (if not obtrusively so). Also strange is much of the behavior; motivations are never clear. Why does Macário fall in love so fast? Why is he in his uncle's charge? Why does his uncle refuse -- but later reverse himself? Nothing is revealed about Luísa, except for her superficial appeal and coquettish allure. Her perpetual Chinese fan makes her more a symbol or a motif than a real young woman. All of this might make more sense if set more distinctly in the period of the writer, but it is still stylized storytelling rather than Zola-esquire 19th-century realism. What does it mean then to say Eça de Queiroz was a 'realist' writer? Though fascinating for its composure and elegance, the film seems largely a curiosity.

A selection of the 2009 New York Film Festival and seen at Lincoln Center as part of the festival.


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