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A journey into one's self
Luis Dias26 March 2013
Night Train to Lisbon is one of the most philosophical movies to hit theaters in the last couple of years. The trip started by Raimund is not between places but between identities. An existential journey into the great unknown of the soul. Some say we take ourselves everywhere we go. This movie tries to tell us instead that we *find* ourselves in those places, we discover a new way of seeing with our own eyes and, when we leave, a part of us stays in that place forever. Returning there is a way of visiting ourselves, like we would an old friend... There's so many layers, so many subtle metaphors, so much poetry in the imagery and storytelling, that despite being such a straightforward story you can't help feeling like you're walking through a maze, a labyrinth of emotions and thoughts, where present, past and future merge into a vast uplifting eternity. One of the best crafted uses of mise-en-abîme i recall ever seeing in a movie! Raimund is Raimund, but he's also Pascal Mercier, and also Amadeu Prado and also You. There's a fiction within a fiction here: a book within a book within a movie. A lie within a lie: a poet within a reader, within a spectator, within a person. This dilution between fiction and reality and between the actor and the audience often occurs, but rarely is it ever a theme, rarely is it ever presented as a question to the audience and rarely so beautifully answered. This game of mirrors will leave you full of wonder and hungry for life. There couldn't be a better outcome for a story that starts with a suicide attempt... There's too many reasons to watch this movie and too little space to review it properly unfortunately... The scenery of Lisbon, the universal anguish of the characters, the excruciating portrayal of the Portuguese dictatorship, the lessons it offers on some of the most important questions one can ask oneself... Do yourself a favor and go see it!
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Night Train to... Life
Daniel Georgiev18 January 2014
A good story with a good cast, told in a nice way for everyone to feel, experience and ask himself questions about life. Life as encounters, as crashes and as sharing - sharing moments, sharing places, sharing memories.

A friend says: "Only the people that are alive and have the memory of you can be the true witnesses of your existence on Earth, otherwise - have we been really alive?!...".

You meet people every day in your life, but it is just when you collide with them - voluntarily or not, when they share their life with you and you share yours with them.

I encourage you to take this train. Its worth it! :)
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Historical Journey
clarkj-565-1613367 December 2013
I found this movie more like a great book, the pace was such that you could synchronize with the dialogue and think about what was going on. I was only vaguely aware that there had been a dictatorship in Portugal during the 70s so this was an important revelation. I did know that Portugal was slowly pulling out of its various foreign colonial possessions, as most European powers did after World War II.

I could not help thinking of there being a connection between Amadeu de Prado and the world famous Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa. The shots of Lisbon are wonderful, the beautiful harbour and hilly narrow streets. I could imagine Vasco da Gama's fleet leaving the port during Portugal's period of world exploration. The acting was superb, Jeremy Irons was the perfect Prof. On the surface absent minded and intellectual, but in practice, seizing the moment with an iron courage to probe the truth no matter where it led, but with a sense of humour knowing that nothing in life is all black or white. Martina Gedeck was so believable and you like her more and more with each shot. Tom Courtney's performance as João Eça was amazing but scary when you realize what happens to ordinary people during extraordinary times.

Many themes are encountered such as friendship, betrayal, and life as a chaotic process without any divine guidance. My hope is at the end of the film our professor needed a second adjustment for his new glasses.
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terrific movie
murraydickman25 April 2013
I just saw it this evening in Rome-- Well done--and although I was not familiar with the book--I will read it now.

The style of "movie within a movie" reminds one of Fowles "the French Lieutenants Wife" and Truffaut "Day for night" but MUCH better done than both of those.

Wonderful story of the randomness of life---and how that random event allowed three close friends during the dictatorship in Portugal to finally discover what had happened to each other. It took a stranger to complete --and resolve--the major event of their lives.

Jeremy Iron was as usual terrific---and reminded me of his role in House of the Spirits--in a similar political setting of the fascist times in Chile.

Deeply intense, dramatically fulfilling--it kept me on the edge of my seat.

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Interesting and brooding drama/thriller with all-star-cast , fabulous performances , enjoyable intrigue and evocative scenarios
ma-cortes23 April 2014
This is an Europudding co-produced by Germany/Switzerland/Portugal , it deals with Raimund Gregorius (Jeremy Irons) , a Swiss Professor, abandons his lectures and buttoned-down life to embark on a thrilling adventure that will take him on a journey to the very heart of himself . Having saved an enticing Portuguese girl from leaping to her death, Gregorius stumbles upon an attractive novel by a Portuguese author, as he figures out the destination of a certain writer named Amadeu (Jack Huston) , a doctor and poet who fought against Portuguese dictator Antonio de Oliveira Salazar. When he arrived in Lisboa , he was welcomed by the writer's sister (Charlotte Rampling) and learned that Amadeu was a medic . Then , he was hit by a man riding a bicycle and smashed . On the day he took his new glasses, the optician (Martina Gedeck) told him that her uncle knew Amadeu well and would like to talk to him . Her uncle, João Eça, (Tom Courtenay) was in the resistance against Salazar dictatorship together with Amadeu . Gregorius acts as an investigator, pulling together pieces of a puzzle that involves suspense , twists and the highest possible stakes to lead unexpected consequences .

It is a correct adaptation based on the international best selling novel written by Pascal Mercier from the award winning director Billie August . This moving film contains suspense , plot twists , a love story , thrills , emotional intrigue and political events . This is a thought-provoking film proceeded in real sense and high sensibility . Though rather existential and thinky, it is ultimately charming . Director Billie August brings out the story through a series of flashbacks . Each flashback is a piece of the puzzle, framing the story and slowly filling in the center until the final piece unsatisfyingly drops into place to resolve the whole . The flashback technique has been used and re-used from ¨Citizen Kane¨ (1941), known by some as the best movie of all time, it gave the world the first plot device by means of flashbacks , following to ¨The Godfather¨ and recently ¨The hours¨ until today we are faced with ¨Night Train to Lisbon¨ (2013), a film destined for repeated use as schedule filling on inventory-building, loved by some attracted by the name of Jeremy Irons and ignored by everyone else . Very good acting from Jeremy Irons as an aging Swiss professor of classical languages , Jack Huston a young Amadeu , gorgeous Melanie Laurent as a mysterious revolutionary girl , Martina Gedeck as Mariana and August Diehl as Young Jorge O'Kelly . Furthermore , the veterans Tom Courtenay , Lena Olin and Bruno Ganz . And special mention to Charlotte Rampling , though Vanessa Redgrave was originally cast for the role of Adriana De Prado, however Rampling replaced her.

The motion picture was well directed by Billie August who repeats similar formula to ¨House of the spirits¨ as German production , Lisboa filming , international cast and Jeremy Irons as main starring . Twice winner of the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival for Pelle the conqueror (1987) and The best intentions (1992) , Billie August is an expert on literary adaptations such as ¨Les Miserables¨, ¨Smilla's Sense of Snow¨ , ¨House of the spirits¨, ¨Marie Kroyer¨, ¨Jerusalem¨ and this ¨Night Train to Lisbon¨ . Rating : Better than average , worthwhile watching . The picture will appeal to Jeremy Irons fans .
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The life would ask what did you do in your life.
Reno Rangan12 November 2013
I am glad that I saw this movie. It was based on the novel which tells about a Swiss professor called Raimund who saves a young woman from jumping off the bridge. Then the girl disappears, so the Raimund got her red coat and a book. He starts to read it to find why she was trying to kill herself. That he finds something deep inside which is more than he had in his life. So he abandons his class in half way and pursue the thrilling adventurous quest to find more about the person he read in the book. Everything he was curious about is only grows bigger than he imagined. He meets many people regarding that book and they tell the same stories from each of their own perspectives which happened in back 70s. Now, Rainmund asks one question himself after knowing everything and it might be yours too if you saw the movie.

The movie looked exact copy of a novel, like I read some novel. The story telling which transforms the screen constantly between now and 70s were clearly maintained with its destination until the last 10- 20 minutes. Once you know the final conclusion, you may say is that it's because some of you might expect something bigger. But the middle aged or older guys who had experienced life very well will know the meaning of it. Yeah I believe the movie might more suitable for those kinda audience than youngsters.

It was a nice performance by such a great British actor Jeremy Irons. Like I said the story had two diversions, one which set in present time and another in 70s. The present time tale was totally ruled by Jeremy Irons, I liked it more than the 70s tale. The problem with flashback story was its ending, it was very simple especially I expected bit detailed explanation behind character Amadeu's death. And also his failed relationship with Estafania could have been more reasonable. However I am not disappointed with the movie, it was a quite nice drama, in fact awesome. I am not a book fanatic but I love movies based on the novels especially movie like 'Night Train to Lisbon' I won't miss. I say you must go for it if you like the movies which gives more priority to innovative characters than usual theme.

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Beautiful. Grand. You will start loving life and events that happen in it!
Bhaskar Ghosh20 September 2013
This European movie too, is so subtle in its depiction of life. It seems that I too flew with the story slowly in time, along with the professor, as he went from a boring uneventful life to embark on an adventure of his lifetime, in his old age. I find this peaceful story telling, not losing any of the minutest details, keeping the audience captivated, and doing all of this without the loudness and noisiness of current age mainstream movies, Hollywood and Bollywood included, great relief and source of utmost pleasure and relishment! Don't know why this is rated as low as 6 on IMDb. I would cherish this one as one of the best movies I have seen, along with Amélie and Life is Beautiful.
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The outcome of his existence was in a booklet found chance
roland-scialom10 December 2013
An unforeseeable and dramatic encounter puts in the hands of Raimond Gregorius, a Latin professor in a Berne school, a booklet written by a Portuguese writer. Starting to read the booklet, Gregorius realise that these writings are a door to a universe in which he will find a key to his own existence. The booklet was found in the pocket of the raincoat of a young Portuguese lady that Gregorius rescued from suicide on the Kirchenfeld bridge, a few hours before, and who walked away without leaving any information about herself. Trying to find the girl, Gregorius finds a ticket for a night train to Lisbon, for this same night, in the booklet. Gregorius goes to the train station in an attempt to meet the girl there, and don't find her. As the train starts to move on, he decides in an impulse to take it, to go to Lisbon, to meet the author of the booklet. Gregorius search makes him discover the life of the author, the relationships of the author with his entourage and with the political context in which Portugal was immersed at that time (the dark and awful years of the dictatorship of Salazar). As this discovery goes on, Gregorius goes discovering himself and sewing an outcome to a story which had remained unfinished. This conclusion is also true for Gregorius who discovers also an outcome for his existence. Most of the actors are not Portuguese, yet each one is quite convincing in his respective role. Gregorius discovery of himself is absolutely exciting. The references to the years of the dictatorship in Portugal is welcome in a world where most of the history is forgotten.
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Well Well Worth It (if you're older)
tickin14 September 2013
I should start by saying if you're older (say 45 or more) you should definitely check out this movie. It has some lines in it that are extraordinary and it's worth seeing just for those nuggets. This is one of those movies that talks to you at a personal level. I don't want to describe too much of it because that would ruin the whole point.

But, I will say...

The director moves you along at such a perfect pace that you almost feel like you're floating. The topics aren't casual but he hovers over them at just the right height.

The acting is right on the money, it suits the movie perfectly, no one is out of step.

The story moves seamlessly between past and present, you won't feel a bump anywhere. It's true, the movie is multi-layered, but the straight up story is more than enough.

And the ending is perfect for this type of movie.

It really is worth the watch, but as I mentioned you might need to be a little older to really...
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If You Like Your Ride Thoughtful and Introspective, This Train's For You
kckidjoseph-111 October 2015
"Night Train to Lisbon," an especially engrossing 2013 film now appearing on Netflix, may not be everyone's cup of tea, but for those hungry for a movie without flying cars that instead pulls you in with an unusual plot and thoughtful, incisive performances by an exceptionally capable cast, this one's for you.

The film was nominated for six Sophia Awards _ the national film awards of Portugal _ including best picture, and won three, for best supporting actress (Beatrice Bartarda), best art direction and best make-up.

Directed by Bille August ("Pelle the Conqueror"), "Night Train to Lisbon" was adapted from a philosophical novel by Swiss author Pascal Mercier.

Mercier's quotations are spoken in voice-over by the film's protagonist, Raimund Gregorius, played by Oscar winner Jeremy Irons, a quiet, lonely classical studies professor working in Bern, Switzerland, who rescues a young woman about to leap off a bridge and after she disappears, finds himself on a quest to Lisbon, not only to find her but to fully understand the story of a doctor-turned-poet whose book he discovers in the pocket of the coat she leaves behind.

The story isn't as dense or contrived as it sounds, thanks to the deft screenplay by Greg Latter and Ulrich Herrmann, and the uniform commitment to character and plot by Irons and a cast that includes veterans Tom Courtenay, Charlotte Rampling, Christpher Lee and Lena Olin.

It's the kind of story that sucks us in because its a kind of "getaway" piece: Who doesn't daydream in a Walter Mittyish way of getting away from it all and taking off on an historical detective story, which is what this is.

Once in Portugal, Irons' Gregorius sets about on a quest for the author but instead finds his sister, Adriana (Rampling as the mature version, Batarda as the younger), and learns that Amadeu died in 1974 and that only 100 copies of his book were printed. The sister has six of the books and, wondering what happened to the rest, is delighted to find that her late brother's limited edition work found an audience beyond her country's borders. Thus, a tenuous but all-important bond is formed between the soft-spoken, insightful professor and the poet's sibling.

The movie intersperses Raimund's investigation with flashbacks to a past in which we meet the young Amadeu (a superb Jack Huston), a member of the resistance to the dictatorship of António Salazar.

Through Adriana, Raimund meets the priest (Lee) who taught Amadeu, Amadeu's best friend, Jorge (Bruno Ganz in the older version, August Diehl in the younger), and learns of Estefania (the fiery Mélanie Laurent), a resistance fighter who was Jorge's girlfriend until she met and fell instantly in love with the handsome Amadeu.

After Raimund breaks his spectacles, he meets a sympathetic optician Mariana (Martina Gedeck) who by happenstance has an uncle named Joao (Courtenay as the elder version, Marco D'Almeida as the youthful one) who was also a member of the resistance and fills in the story. Late in the film, the strings of the plot are pulled together when Raimund finally meets the mature Estefania (a stunningly beautiful and completely believable Olin).

As I said, "Night Train to Lisbon" isn't for everyone, especially for those accustomed to tons of action and instant gratification via computer wizardry and slam bang eye-for-an-eye retribution, but it did it for me. It's extraordinarily literate and sumptuously photographed to boot, and it's not a stretch to say it contains threads of David Lean's wonderful 1965 film version of "Doctor Zhivago," albeit on a much smaller scale.

I was especially drawn to Irons' professor, a sensationally muted performance that holds the whole thing together.

Since you'll probably be watching this in your living room, "Night Train to Lisbon" is rated R (under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian) for a scene of violence and brief sexuality (which really aren't all that bad).
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and we meet not merely by chance
blanche-227 July 2014
The above statement goes against the philosophy of "Night Train to Lisbon," but that's because I don't agree with the philosophy. My opinion does not take away from this beautiful film because of course, events can be viewed in many different ways.

Jeremy Irons plays Raimund Gregorius, a Swiss Professor. One gets the impression that he leads a well-ordered and probably boring life. On his way to work one morning, he sees a woman about to jump off of a bridge, and he tackles her to the ground. She asks if she can walk with him, which she does, and sits in his schoolroom for a while. Then he notices her leaving. He runs from his classroom and follows her. In her coat, which she has left behind, he finds a train ticket to Lisbon and a book by Amadeu Prado. The train leaves in fifteen minutes. Raimund races to the station, but the girl is nowhere in sight. He boards the train.

Raimund becomes enchanted by Amadeu's writings and wants to find out more about him and meet him. He registers at a hotel, buys some clothes, and starts asking questions and looking for Amadeu.

What he finds is a fascinating story that took place during the Portuguese resistance to the dictator Salazar, It concerns some young people, Amadeu (Jack Huston), his best friend Joao (played as an adult by Tom Courtenay), Jorge (August Diehl/Bruno Ganz), and Estefania (Melanie Laurent/Lena Olin), and their lives then and now.

With the help of his eye doctor Mariana (Martina Gedeck), a priest (Christopher Lee), and others, Raimund puts the pieces of their story together. In doing so, he begins to question his own life and choices. As he tells Mariana, "They lived." He asks himself, has he?

The beauty of Portugal is ever-present in this film, underlying the emotional and suspenseful scenes as Raimund learns the different threads of the story. Jack Huston, so mysterious and sad as the wounded war vet in "Boardwalk Empire," is a completely different character here. He's physically beautiful, gentle, and idealistic. The acting is marvelous, as is Bille August's direction.

This is not a bombastic, blow-up, CGI movie. It moves at a steady pace, not a breakneck one as it explores these people's lives and the writings of Amadeu, and as Raimund talks about randomness and chance. His involvement does indeed seem random, but I was left with a feeling that he was where he was supposed to be, learning what he needed to learn in order to live a fuller life. Whether life is random or not is something none of us know. I do know this is a wonderful, atmospheric film.
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journey into the superb
KexUK7 June 2014
Brilliant. A thoughtful and thought provoking film notable for the superb quality of all aspects. Perhaps a film that is not for 'younger gore and sex motivated audiences' but definitely a film for any who enjoy playing with the plot themselves.

Superb acting at all levels.Photography that transformed the banal and tinted the ordinary with interest.Direction that delicately unwound the many intrigues at a pace that was intellectually and emotionally exquisite.The film seems almost down-played, low key, unsure of itself.However, this is far from the case as appearances are usually deceptive and building character recognition with an audience takes patience, especially if the characters are 'out of the box' originals.

This is one of those films I know I will happily watch many times.There was a comforting 'humanness and humanity' about it and a sense of acute reality often denied in more brash and gawdy films.

I'm happy I got on this train.
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A Haunting Tale of Discovery and Intrigue
M Campbell1 May 2014
This movie was one of the most captivating stories told in film that I've seen in a long time. I ask myself was it the luscious reading of the book that was found ("Um Ourives das Palavras" by Amadeu de Prado) that drew me in, or was it the fantastic screen play, magnificent acting and directing. I still don't know. I found the film on Netflix and had never heard of it being in the theaters near me. How was it possible that this wonderful film had so little visibility here in the US when in my opinion it should have been high on the nominations of one of the best films of the year.

This movie tells its story through layers of intrigue told by one man living vicariously through the lives of others both living and dead. It's a haunting tale that is both historical (about the regime of the dictatorship in Portugal under Salazar rule) and romantic (about the loves of Amadeu de Prado both for his friends, family, and lover).

I don't want to destroy the intrigue by divulging too many of the details of the story line. I will say that I've rarely felt as emotional about a story as I did about this one. It made me curious to go research more about Salazar and his dictatorship rule of Portugal from 1932 to 1968. 1968? I keep wonder how so recent an event as a revolution in the late 60's happened and I knew so little about him and the abuses of his dictatorship?

The years prior to and after the revolution, were told through the memories of Amadeu de Prado (played so perfectly by Jack Huston) who sister collected and published his writings in a book called "Um Ourives das Palavras" (not a real book but one created by the author of Night Train to Lisbon). The book was found by an older man, a teacher Raimund Gregorius, (wonderfully played by Jeremy Irons) when he rescued a young woman attempting suicide. The event of saving her also changed his life and saved him.

After he saves the woman she wanders off while he is teaching his class and he tries to find her again. Not knowing her name, he finds a train ticket to Lisbon Portugal, and in a moment of compassion jumps on the train he believes she might be on. This is a man who has never lived, never had an adventure, never did anything irrational and yet here he was leaving his job, his life, at a moment's notice to find her.

In this pursuit of her, he begins to read the book that she left behind. It is the hauntingly compelling and intriguing story in the book, which begins this journey and introduces the viewer to the lives of so many of the movies characters. The rest of the movie is about discovery. Discovering who the author of the book, Amandeu, was and all the lives that were touched by his existence (including that of Raimund, the girl he rescues Catarina, Amandeu's sister, his lover Estefania, the resistance fighters he knew and the butcher of Lisbon). Through this exploration, Raimund not only finds love again for himself with Mariana( ) but he also finds a new life for himself.

Throughout the movie we are brought to understand more about existence. About what makes us who we are; about how the decisions we make in life control the life experience we have; about how fragile life can be, how love seems to be able to transcend it all; and how what we leave behind (as in Amandeu writings) gives us the kind of immortality we all desire.

This is the kind of movies we need more of, not those brainless teeny-bopper action extravaganzas that so dominate our movie screens today. Anyone of thoughtful intellect would love it. Go rent it if you missed it like I did when it was in the theaters!
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A movie for savoring
pamela-885-62162931 December 2013
This is a movie for those in a thoughtful mood, willing to give it time and happy to be seduced by the atmosphere and ambiance of Lisbon. The story unfolds slowly, like a slow courtship, so it is not a movie for the impatient or those looking for a quick thrill - and it is all the better for that.

The contrast between the aging Professor Gregorius whose life has been safe but uneventful, and the story of the youthful revolutionaries who are living life on the edge of life and death is well done, with some subtleties that can easily be overlooked by the less aware.

Both Jeremy Irons and Charlotte Rampling are superb, bringing a wisdom to their roles that was missing from some of their earlier work, and Jack Huston as Amadeu and Melanie Laurent as Estefania have real charisma.

This is a film to savour.
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Ignore the Tedious Beginning and Enjoy a Good Movie
Claudio Carvalho24 August 2014
In Bern, Switzerland, the teacher Raimund Gregorius (Jeremy Irons) saves a young woman from committing suicide jumping off a bridge and brings her to the school where he works. During his class, she leaves the building and Raimund unsuccessfully runs after her to give her coat back. He finds a book, "Um Ourives das Palavras" (A Goldsmith of the Words) written by the Portuguese Amadeu de Almeida Prado (Jack Huston) in the pocket and he goes to the bookstore stamped on the first page and discovers that the book was sold on the previous day to the woman. He finds a train ticket to Lisbon that will departure in fifteen minutes inside the book and he goes to the Central Station expecting to find the woman. He embarks in the train to Lisbon and reads the book, becoming fascinated with the story. When he arrives in Lisbon, Raimund decides to stay in the city to meet Amadeu. He finds his house, where his sister Adriana (Charlotte Rampling) lives, and soon he discovers that Amadeu is dead. Raimund decides to research the life of Amadeu, who was a doctor and writer that belonged to the resistance against the dictator Salazar, and his discoveries affect his own boring life.

"Night Train to Lisbon" is a movie with a tedious beginning, when the lead character leaves his students in their classroom and travels to Lisbon in a senseless situation. Then there is serendipity, when he has an accident and breaks his glasses, and the doctor introduces him to her uncle that was a friend of Amadeu. But the development of the plot like a puzzle and the open conclusion are excellent and makes worthwhile watching this movie. The excellent European cast is another great attraction. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Trem Noturno para Lisboa" ("Night Train to Lisbon")
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Irons' Character Comes Out of His Shell
jcbinok24 November 2015
Warning: Spoilers
This movie involves twin plot lines: Jeremy Irons' character sloughing off his boring his life in Bern, and his making connections among people that lived through a traumatic era of Portugaul's history; facilitating some healing and understanding among them.

I thought Irons' journey of self-discovery was by far the more effective story line, though it probably took up less screen time. The historical flashback scenes and interactions with those characters in present time were interesting but felt forced. In essence, Irons unravels an entire web of intrigue by innocently nosing around an author's old haunts; doors open up to him and a long series of events/coincidences allow him to keep sleuthing. I suspect the book does a much better job at unfolding this part of the story.

Nevertheless, the performances are strong across the board. There is real chemistry between Irons and his special optometrist friend, Martina Gedeck. I just wish that relationship would have been the major rather than minor theme. And, I really liked how the ending was left as an unanswered question/invitation...roll credits.
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One man's search for meaning
bandw14 April 2015
Warning: Spoilers
The title of this leads you to think it might be a film noir, but in fact it is about a man's search for meaning later in life. That man is Raimund Gregorius (Jeremy Irons), a Latin teacher in Bern, Switzerland. As the movie opens the time is contemporary (2013). In a unique way Gregorius comes by a book of poetry that has a great effect on him. This book was written by one Amadeu de Almeida Prado, a Portuguese poet, medical doctor, and philosopher who lived in Lisbon from the early 1930s to 1974. Outside the fact that Amadeu's story plays out against the historical facts of the dictatorial regime in Portugal during his lifetime, all else is fiction, including the existence of Amadeu himself.

Gregorius is so taken with what he reads in Amadeu's book that he feels compelled to meet the author and drops everything and goes to Lisbon to see if he can find him. Once he arrives in Lisbon the main thrust of the story follows his detective work in trying to piece together Amadeu's short life that came to an end on April 25, 1974, the day the dictatorship fell. The story alternates between Gregorius' life in Lisbon and Amadeu's life during the 1970s. We get to know a lot about Amadeu and his friends; most of what Gregorius finds out comes from talking with people still living, mainly from two of Amadeu's friends and his sister (all obviously much older by 2013).

The main insight into Amadeu's character comes from his writings. During the course of the movie Irons reads over a half dozen selections from Amadeu's book. He does a wonderful job in these readings using an expressive emotional tone. The readings are cleverly made to apply to what Gregorius is experiencing at the time of his reading them. I can see why Gregorius was so taken with Amadeu's book--the readings presented are quite elegant and I re-watched the movie so I could better appreciate them. For example, here is one:

"In youth we live as if we were immortal. Knowledge of mortality dances around us like a brittle paper ribbon that barely touches our skin. When in life does that change? When does the ribbon tighten ... until finally it strangles us?"

I felt that there was ambiguity in how Amadeu met his end, based on the comment Jorge made to Estefania at Amadeu's funeral, "You didn't really think I would do it did you?"

Irons is perfect for this role. All the actors appearing in both time periods are well cast in this well-acted, complex, captivating movie.
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On the road to Lisbon
tomsview24 January 2015
Don't be put off by critics who thought "Night Train to Lisbon" was old-fashioned, too talky and lacking in tension, because there is something unique about this movie; by the end, it's quite an experience.

Raimund Gregorius, played by Jeremy Irons in his slightly detached manner, is a teacher in Switzerland. When he saves the life of a woman, she disappears leaving behind a small book written by a man named Amadeu do Prado, and a train ticket to Lisbon. Raimund becomes intrigued by the insightful writings of Amadeu, who has since died. Admittedly, all this setting up of the story is pretty contrived, but the important thing in the plot was to get Raimund on that journey to discover more about Amadeu.

He meets many people who knew Amadeu including his sister played by Charlotte Rampling, always an intriguing screen presence, she still seems to get plenty of roles with absolutely no loss of mystique. As Raimund delves deeper and deeper into the story of Amadeu, and his relationship with revolutionaries during the Salazar regime in Portugal, he becomes aware that much is missing from his own life.

Amadeu's story is told through extensive flashbacks, with younger actors playing the parts of the older storytellers - maybe it's this element that some thought outmoded. Flashback was a technique beloved of film noir where we even had flashbacks within flashbacks. The structure of "Night Train to Lisbon" is not unlike 1944's "The Mask of Dimitrios". Although the plots are different, that old film was also about someone who becomes intrigued by the life of another man, mainly through the memories of others. I'm sure there are plenty of other examples.

It wasn't until near the end that I realised "Night Train to Lisbon" had similarities not so much to old movies, but to a much older story: Raimund is inspired by the wisdom and profound sayings of a man who seemed better than other men, who spoke out against evil, became a healer and saves the life of a man whom he had every right to think of as an enemy. Finally, Raimund's journey has become more of a pilgrimage, and through the inspiration of Amadeu, he develops a more positive outlook on life.

Although not exactly blinded on the road to Damascus, Raimund does seem to have an epiphany on the train to Lisbon. I don't know if the author of the novel, Pascal Mercier, intended such a religious parallel, but the script would have been too heavy-handed for any of the characters to have made that connection; it has power if the audience finds it for themselves.

If a movie doesn't grab me, I can forget nearly everything about it by the next day, however I must admit this one has stayed with me. It's a film that gets you thinking.
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Layered and quietly moving look at the end of the dictatorship in Portugal 40 years ago
secondtake14 January 2015
Night Train to Lisbon (2013)

A remarkable movie, with shades of magic and threads of a true national angst still resolving in contemporary Portugal. I just returned from a visit there and can sense some vestige of another era in the buildings, but not in the people. The era of dictatorship is no longer visible to the tourist.

But that is the meat of the movie, set after Salazar's long reign, and with the aftermath of memories and lost ones still mourned. But it's all told (based on a novel by a Swiss writer) as if in a dream, or in an individual's search through imprecise information and people who don't always talk about it the way you might expect. It's a series of small surprises, elegantly wrought.

So in all these ways it's a powerful movie. It's small and intimate, however, not an epic about this great turning point in Portuguese history. In a way it's appropriate, because I found the people there less exuberant and more contemplative than the Spaniards next door. There are always a million reasons for such things—climate, outside cultural influences, etc.—but it's so true that the movie is actually terribly honest. It reveals the truth, in little facets, and never complete.

The star certainly is Jeremy Irons, who plays the leading role with tenderness and quiet certitude. He's terrific, and perfect for this part. Also appearing is Charlotte Rampling who has a knack for small, odd, but critical roles in offbeat movies. The cast is wide, and in the many flashbacks the characters gradually intersect in different ways, revealing their personal connections to the political strife of the times.

Good stuff? Excellent stuff! I liked it more than I expected to. It's slow at times, and maybe (if you are not paying attention) a hair confusing, but give it a go if you are inclined at all. A serious, brooding but not depressing drama about, in the end, relationship. As all the best movies are.
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Definitely Not for Most U.S-centric Cineplex Movie-Goers
Jay David24 December 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I'll lay my cards on the table up front. First, I like Danish director Bille August, director of "Pelle the Conqueror" and "The Best Intention" (about the childhood of Ingmar Bergman) and would see one of his movies just because he directed it. I know the story of the Portuguese revolution of 1974, and I love Portugal and the Portuguese; I have been there a number of time). Plus I see very few American-made movies. The last movie I saw prior to "Night Train to Lisbon" was "Far From Me", set in Algeria and based on a short story by Camus starring Viggo Mortensen. The next Monday I will see will be "He Named Me Malala" (on Monday).

Enough about me. Most of my fellows Americans don't even know where Spain's "little brother" country to the west is. And you can probably count on one hand the number of Americans who know about the Revolution of the Carnations, probably the only time in history when a country's army rose up, overthrew the dictator, and brought democracy to their country. The signal for uprising to begin (I believe there was only a couple of fatalities) was the playing of the banned song "Grândola Vila Morena" on the radio.

The story is a complicated and interesting one, especially for history buffs and those who like Portugal. The story constantly moves back and forth in time. It's not Jeremy Irons', Charlotte Rampling's (just watched two seasons of her British-produced detective series, which is great), or Bruno Ganz's best work. But they are still pretty good, and better than almost any American actors in my opinion, and I like seeing these older actors getting good parts. Other than Michael Keaton, Bill Murray, or Mark Ruffalo; Cate Blanchett or Naomi Watts, almost no other American actors can draw me into a movie house. Where is Laura Linney these days? And even though I'm not a Woody Allen "fan" per se, Woody, along with Jim Jarmusch, are about the only American directors that create a movie (like "Blue Jasmine") once in a while that will lure me in to the cineplex. The opening scene immediately reminded me of Camus' novel "The Fall."

So if you like most, or all, of the movies, directors and/or actors I have mentioned above, you will like seeing, even if you haven't taken the "Night Train to Lisbon" (of course, I have). Also see the 1980s film "In the White City", which also features a Swiss man in Portugal.
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Night Train to Lisbon
Maryjnberry19 October 2014
Warning: Spoilers
This is one terrific movie, I liked it so much, I will buy the DVD. Jeremy Irons is an excellent actor and does not disappoint in this very cerebral film. The philosophy quotes from the small book supposedly written by Amadeus are spellbinding, makes me want to get the book! Irons appears as an absent minded professor, in what he describes later as his 'boring' life as a professor of history and language. As a teacher he does not have to relate to others deeply, as each year the students changed, but when he saves the girl from jumping off the bridge, takes her to his class during which she disappears, leaving her coat behind. Irons then tries to find her and to trace a book that he finds in her coat pocket, this spurs him to find the girl and the author, Amadeus. Charlotte Rampling as always gives just the most perfect performance in her role as the grieving sister of Amadeus. I love the way the questions Irons asks to each of the players in this drama goes into the past, to their younger selves trying to explain their role as rebels in the war. Irons persistence gets the whole story. I love British actors and this movie is a testament to their excellence the story, worthy of them. I hope to see more of this in the future.😃🎓
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a must watch for the sensitive soul
robtromp29 April 2014
This film is almost a paean to the sensitive soul. It touches on the concerns and conflicts of this small minority directly, and without the negative bias of the less sensitive majority. It will be a comforting affirmation to the highly sensitive and an interesting foray into the world of the sensitive mind for those less affected by this personality trait. And it is all done with a great script and top notch performances. Sadly, it won't win the notice of any awards nominations, but it is one of the best films of recent years.

Alas, again my review has not complied with the stringent demands of IMDb for verbosity, but I hope that this apologia suffices.
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Every sequence perfectly measured
Warwick Wakefield14 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Jeremy Irons has such a beautiful appearance and manner that it is difficult to imagine him as a boring high school teacher, but if you can make this leap then the rest follows.

A mysterious sequence of events results in his finding himself on the train platform at Bern, looking for a young woman who will possibly be catching the night train to Lisbon. He fails to find her but impulsively boards the train himself, hoping to find, not this young woman but the author of a deeply poetic and philosophical book which she had in her possession.

He arrives in Lisbon and begins to search for this author.

He discovers that the author died at the time of the revolution which freed Portugal from Salazar's dictatorship. But he continues looking, for the people who knew him, the people who were close to him, the people who might be able to bring to life the man who wrote these penetrating observations about life and fortune and morality and fulfillment.

Lisbon is beautiful. It is beautifully filmed, the streets, the houses, the interiors. The people our man meets are some of them closed and guarded, for they have been deeply wounded by their struggles in these turbulent times. But, because our man is obviously deeply concerned, their hearts are moved by the openness of his heart, and they seize the opportunity to tell the difficult truth to this truth-seeker and truth- respecter. They are people who have faced terrible dangers and taken risks that our man has only ever read about.

There is a scene where the young author, still not much more than a schoolboy, reflects on the horror of everlasting life and the need for death to give meaning to any and every action.

And the flashbacks show the passions, loves and jealousies of the little band of revolutionaries. But the direction is such that artistic truth is not for a moment lost; not for a moment is there either banality or melodrama.

The mysterious young woman from Switzerland, who has started this whole chain of events, and whom we have forgotten about, eventually re- appears. And what a story she tells. I wept. I weep now when I remember it.
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Your journey will complete when you finish reading the novel
Shunsuke Amanai4 October 2016
I read the novel in Japanese translation in 2015 and have watched the film only recently, that is in the fall of 2016. Just about a good long time for a Raimund Gregorius character to grow in my mind.

Adaptation of the literature, delicately weaved with two languages i.e. originally written in German with Portuguese quotes everywhere, must have been a lot of hard work. Given that, I reckon that this film adaptation was masterfully done. I was intrigued, like I was in the novel, into the thick narratives of Gregorius.

Sadly, however, one critical element I had enjoyed in the novel was completely missing in the film: luxury of experience, though Gregorius, being left alone in the vast void of ignorance of the Portuguese language. Throughout the story, Gregorius struggled with the Portuguese language in the novel, while in the film, everyone speaks in English.

Having said that, the film's visualization was amazing. I was amusingly impressed by the magic of colors, and a skillful camera work to capture the beauty of the historic town. Needless to say, perhaps, performances are superb. Screenplay were tactful enough to convey the multiple layers of the novel in a way not to confuse the audiences.

If you are reading this, I recommend you to enjoy the film first, and then to pick up the novel. I bet you won't regret it.
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A masterpiece in romantic mystery
simondclinch-16 May 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I am angry with at least six thousand of you who voted less than 7 (the minimum I normally have time to watch) and caused me delay in finding this wonderful film. Maybe I should submine the IMDb database so that I can cross-reference your votes on other films and generate my own ratings in a numberscape void of your numbscape. That said, I can now begin my review.

It is often said that a film is usually inferior to the book on which it is based. And whereas this tendency is almost a de facto weakness, such films must be made at all costs, because films that are not based on any book tend on average to be worse.

In this case, the skill of the original novelist explodes early on screen as the words of a fictitious novel that is central to the plot. There is an old joke, 'what is the difference between heaven and hell?' that compares the weaknesses and strengths of different European nationals. For example, in heaven the Italians are the lovers and the Swiss are the bankers and in hell the roles are reversed. Having lived in Switzerland, I have to disagree with such stereotypes. And indeed, this story does a good job in exploding such myths, for the central character is Swiss and while demonstrating a quiet, deferential manner, reveals increasingly the intense passion he feels as the story unfolds, as indeed it does for the viewer, who should I would hope empathise to some degree.

It is almost a rule of novel-writing that a story be told in the words of its characters. Films rarely manage to include the unspoken words, but this masterpiece uses many clever tricks to work around that problem seamlessly, that is to say, without exposing the inner workings of the writer's kitchen.

The story begins in Bern where a teacher on his way to school encounters a Portuguese woman about to kill herself and who has also dropped a book on the ground. And from there all the way to the end and actually beyond, the film jumps headfirst into the depths of mystery. The teacher (Irons) follows a trail of clues laid out in the book from Bern to Lisbon, unfolding a story from the past of romance and revolution underpinned by eloquent passages of philosophical thought. I say that instead of philosophy, because they are very different things. A philosopher is a person who seeks answers to questions about fundamental laws and the human condition, whereas philosophy is the bureaucracy of categorizing such answers without understanding them beyond a level too superficial to be called philosophical.

Needless to say, it was the words of Amadeu, the fictional writer at the centre of this story that lifted me to such a philosophical level. I cannot recall watching a film quite like it!

Of course it helps to have a superstar cast which also was not apparent from the IMDb header! One either has to read the whole cast list or watch the film to realise how many heavy hitters are hiding in there!
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