95 minutes

For cult Portuguese veteran Edgar Pêra, this adaptation of writer Branquinho da Fonseca's 1942 novella about a big city bureaucrat caught in the seductive wave of a decadent country aristocrat was a long-gestating project, following on his 2007 little-seen filming of the writer's sole novel, Rio Turvo. On paper, O Barão seems to have little to do with mr. Pêra's surreal cyber-DIY aesthetics, until one realises the he uses it as an unexpectedly accessible synthesis, both stylistic and thematic, of his 30-year directorial career on the fringes of mainstream film-making.
     His explorations of Portuguese history and character are visible in the parable of the Baron as a metaphor for an old, parochial country, corrupt, debauched, hypocritical; his fascination with genre cinema, B-movies and trash eccentricity comes through in Luís Branquinho's dazzling high-contrast black-and-white cinematography and the director's decision to film the story as a throwback to 1930s Universal and 1950s cheap B-series horror movies as helmed by an epileptic Guy Maddin, with mr. Pêra's regular accomplice Nuno Melo channeling Bela Lugosi and Klaus Kinski in his portrayal of the Baron. The result is the director's most accessible fiction yet, playfully described on the press notes as a "2D movie", although it never fully abandons mr. Pêra's playful, often impenetrable way with narrative and insistence on highly baroque visuals (the creativity of the English subtitling is wondrous and yet over the top). Yet O Barão is also an unapologetically romantic tale of love and regret (as indeed most classic horror movies) and the director's most sincere work yet.

Starring Nuno Melo, Marcos Barbosa, Leonor Keil.
     Directed by Edgar Pêra; produced by Ana Costa; screenplay by Luísa Costa Gomes, mr. Pêra, based on the novella by Branquinho da Fonseca, O Barão; music by Vozes da Rádio; director of photography (b&w, Tóbis processing), Luís Branquinho; art director, Fernando Areal; costume designer, Susana Abreu; film editors, Tiago Antunes, João Gomes. 
     A Cinemate/Bando à Parte co-production with financial support from the Portuguese Ministry of Culture-Institute for Cinema and Audiovisual and Radio and Television of Portugal. (World sales, Cinemate.)
     Screened: IndieLisboa 2011 official selection, advance press screening, Culturgest - Pequeno Auditório (Lisbon), April 29th 2011. 


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