Past And Present (1972)

MANOEL DE OLIVEIRA

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BB.5

Original title:  O Passado E O Presente

Portugal, 1972.  Screenplay by Manoel de Oliveira, dialogue by , based on the play by Vicente Sanches.  Cinematography by .  Produced by Manoel de Oliveira.  Production Design by .  Film Editing by Manoel de Oliveira.

Manoel de Oliveira adapts Vicente Sanches’ play to the screen and, in not atypical fashion for him, sucks all the fun out of it. A wealthy woman has buried her first husband, whom she didn’t love, and is now married to her second. Distance lends enchantment and she finds herself worshipping the memory of her lost love and ignoring her current mate, a situation made all the more difficult when the deceased spouse’s identical twin brother shows up and throws her into an emotional flurry. Husband #2 decides not to take it lying down, but his solution is one that leads her further into her strange determination to only want a man when she really can’t have him. The actors are all pristine and the situations, much like Bunuel’s The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie, are as deliciously strange as they are coldly prim, but de Oliveira lacks Bunuel’s magically comic touch and the whole things feels far more sluggish than it should.

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