Here’s why Manoel de Oliveira is still with us: As an artist, the Portuguese auteur rarely breaks a sweat. Eccentricities of a Blonde-Haired Girl is one of the filmmaker’s more banal inquiries into the objectification of women in life and in art, starring Ricardo Trêpa as Macário, an accountant who precipitates his financial ruin after the uncle who employs him shuns his desire to marry the fan-waving honey who lives across the way from their scarf shop. Surprising only for clocking in at a mercifully brief 64 minutes, this anecdote of a film may be found agreeably weird by anyone who thrills at the sight of old people crossing expansive city streets before the traffic light turns green. Though Eccentricities is notable for the director’s predictably fine way of using of mirrors and doorways to fracture his frame, de Oliviera’s style is cunning only in the sense that it conveys a sense of depth that Macário’s imbroglio with the sexy Luísa (Catarina Wallenstein), which he relates to an older woman on a train, sorely lacks. Belle Toujours, the last de Oliviera trifle to play at the New York Film Festival, was a kind of sequel to the great Belle de Jour, and Eccentricities still finds the 100-year-old trying to engage with Luis Buñuel’s surrealist ploys—in this case evoking the overhead shots of a city street from Un Chien Andalou, only without the eroticism, perversity, and annihilation, which is to say, their potency. The sheer inexplicableness of the film—how the woman on the train can’t quite seem to make eye contact with Macário, or how his uncle refuses to allow his marriage—makes this one easy to indulge, if only out of curiosity for how it might turn out, but by the time Macário finishes his scarcely sordid tale, you realize that de Oliviera’s only flair for the subversive is telling jokes without punchlines.
- 64 min
- Manoel de Oliveira
- Manoel de Oliveira
- Ricardo Trêpa, Catarina Wallenstein, Diogo Dória, Júlia Buisel, Leonor Silveira, Filipe Vargas, Miguel Seabra, Rogério Samora
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