|Ema Cardeano Paiva (Leonor Silveira)|
Before I talk about the movie, I have to talk about the available DVD. See that image above…good, now look at the picture below that displays if you don’t tweak the aspect ratio in VLC media player. Yuck!
While that issue was fixable, the dubbing into French was not. It wasn’t completely distracting, but it didn’t help this film that one of the most stereotypically pretentious languages was used in place of the original one. Now to the film.
This is my first Portuguese film and I hope it isn’t representative of their cinema as a whole because this one made me want to break the DVD in two. The film follows Ema who is well aware of her sexuality early in life and in adulthood is shuffled into a marriage. The marriage isn’t loveless but she ends up isolated and pursues extramarital relations. I can’t really give you more because it was so unbelievably boring that I could hardly follow the story and characters. The film clocks in at three hours which already works against it. Then there is a Rohmerian quantity of dialogue, with the majority of it coming from a voice over narrator while we look at a largely static frame. It creates an annoying detachment that I have been angered by once before with Duras’ India Song.
My best summary is: It’s like the worst minimalism of Robert Bresson combined with the annoying length of Bela Tarr’s Satantango, the stiltedness of Margurite Duras’ India Song, and the self absorption of Lars Von Trier.
An explanation of the film I read summed it up as a study in Bovarianism, as in the book Madame Bovary. Here is a link to the best review I found: Abraham’s Valley
I can’t recommend it.