92 minutes

The directing debut of Portuguese screenwriter Vicente Alves do Ó is a painfully sincere but dismally gauche attempt at an updated, stylized woman's picture, undone by a glossy fetishism that all but drowns its schematic, fanciful plot. This tale of a well-off, upper-crust woman who throws her perfect life away chasing the chimera of a man she only met once is haunted by any number of vintage Hollywood melodramas and a lot of Hitchcock — it's impossible to not think of Vertigo when looking at Rita Loureiro's blonde get-up and at the movie's premise of a woman leading a double life.
But mr. Alves do Ó's tenderly loving nostalgia becomes slowly an airless, risible mausoleum that entombs any attempt at drama, a screenwriter's concept and conceit mistaking advertising gloss for glamour and self-indulgence for obsession. The cast performances are all over the place, plotting seems cut and pasted rather than organic, the dialogue strives for wit and credibility but ends up being merely arch and occasionally laughable, and the handling is wildly inconsistent, with a penchant for grandiose tracking shots that feel tacked on to the film's narrative. There's no denying the sincerity of the intentions and the genuine love for classic cinema it shows, but the results are so mannered and arch that what was meant as grandiloquent and post-modern becomes silly and artless.

Starring Rita Loureiro, João Reis, Marcello Urgeghe, Carmen Santos, Dalila Carmo, Ivo Canelas.
Directed and written by Vicente Alves do Ó; music by Pedro Janela; director of photography (colour, widescreen), Luís Branquinho; art director, João Nunes; costume designer, Paulo Gomes; film editor, João Braz.
A Filmes de Fundo production; with the support of Instituto do Cinema e Audiovisual-Ministério da Cultura, Rádio e Televisão de Portugal; in co-production with Ukbar Filmes. (Portuguese distributor, Zon Lusomundo Audiovisuais.)
Screened: distributor advance press screening, Zon Lusomundo Colombo 9 (Lisbon), March 23rd 2011. 


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