Tuesday, 25 January 2011


Isaac works as a photographer whose role it is to take the ‘final’ pictures of people’s loved ones. Having been hired by a particularly wealthy family to photograph the body of the recently married Angélica, Isaac finds himself inappropriately fixated on the resultant images. As he attempts to return to normality, heading to vineyards to photograph the local workers, Isaac is constantly haunted by the image of this beautiful woman he never knew. His behaviour grows more erratic, and an unfortunate episode during one of his photography expeditions confirms the extent of his manic infatuation.

This being the latest film of many by prolific 102-year-old director Manoel de Oliveira, The Strange Case of Angelica is evidence of a well-lived career in film. De Oliveira establishes mood magnificently, the first ten minutes of the film dominated by the sound and presence of nighttime rain, and a plot about photography gives a great excuse for some superb images of the Douro countryside. With the collaboration of cinematographer Sabine Lancelin, who has lensed several of his productions, de Oliveira composes each scene like a tableau, restricting movement to maintain the illusion of a painting come to life. Disappointingly, as with several of the director’s most recent pictures, Angelica is too stoical to convince emotionally, especially in the film’s fantastical moments – for example, Isaac’s imagined meeting with Angélica comes off more farcical than magical. Though not totally devoid of enjoyment, Angelica requires considerable patience, and the third act is likely to leave one wanting.

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