Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
Original title: O Estranho Caso De Angelica
Portugal/Spain/France/Brazil, 2010. Les Films de l’Après-Midi, Eddie Saeta S.A., Filmes do Tejo, Instituto do Cinema e do Audiovisual, Lusomundo, Ministério da Cultura, Radiotelevisão Portuguesa. Screenplay by Manoel de Oliveira. Cinematography by Sabine Lancelin. Produced by Francois d’Artemare, Renata de Almeida, Maria Joao Mayer, Lluis Minarro. Production Design by Christian Marti, Jose Pedro Penha. Costume Design by Adelaide Maria Trepa. Film Editing by Valerie Loiseleux. Toronto International Film Festival 2010.
Moody, minor romance by Manoel de Oliveira, who released this film not long before turning an astonishing 102 years old. Isaac is a photographer who is hired by a wealthy family to come to their house on the night that their daughter Angelica (Pilar López de Ayala) dies. The family have laid Angelica resplendently out in a beautiful white dress with her blond hair on display and ask Isaac to take her picture; she is a vision in her finery and, lo and behold, Isaac experiences one when he looks through the lens of his camera at her dead face and she smiles at him. Her haunting presence remains near him over the next days as he goes about continuing his work photographing local laborers and Angelica keeps popping up, taking him on midnight flights over the Portuguese countryside or smiling at him from photos. As always with de Oliveira, the pace is as slow as a melting glacier and there are stretches of not-too-scintillating conversation among minor characters, but this one has a romantic glow hanging over it, partly thanks to a gorgeous piano score, that makes it soothing rather than boring.