Review: The Strange Case of Angelica-O Estranho Caso de Angélica (2010)


The Strange Case of Angelica-O Estranho Caso de Angélica (2010)

Directed by: Manoel de Oliveira | 97 minutes | drama | Actors: Pilar López de Ayala, Filipe Vargas, Leonor Silveira, Ricardo Trêpa, Luís Miguel Cintra, Carmen Santos, Isabel Ruth, Ana Maria Magalhães, José Manuel Mendes, Ricardo Aibéo, Sofia de Portugal, Adelaide Teixeira, Sara Carinhas, Paulo Matos, Antonio Reis

Manoel de Oliveira delivered the small film ‘The Strange Case of Angelica’ (‘O Estranho Caso de Angélica’) in 2010. For the first time, the director, now 102, experimented with digital effects. Throughout the film it is difficult not to keep the director’s age in mind, as everything happens so subtly, so small, that the beauty easily evaporates; the film that remains is too reminiscent of a snack.

Lovers of longshots can embrace De Oliveira, because Sabine Lanceline’s fixed camera work sometimes allows images to continue for minutes. The first scenes of the film, in particular, offer beautiful cinematography, assuring the viewer that the director has created the work with passion and empathy. He himself will not have seen the film as a snack. Here and there the hand of a real master can be seen, and it is understandable why the director received a standing ovation from the audience in Cannes. But the story, written by De Oliveira himself in 1952, often seems too old-fashioned and the various clues of the plot that the Portuguese offers are difficult to connect with each other. ‘The Strange Case of Angelica’ is therefore not a big film, but small, almost minute, but pleasant and charming in that way.

The leading role in the film is played by Ricardo Trêpa, a grandson of the director, who passes on the profession of cinema from generation to generation. The man has been making films since 1931. After ‘The Strange Case of Angelica’ he casually started work on the follow-up, ‘Gabo And The Shadow’. Since 1990 – perhaps because of impending death – De Oliveira has been working on his films at a killer pace; he delivers one about every six months. At times his cinema is heavy – even the light-hearted work – but when you poke through it, you see fine references everywhere; cinema created for art houses and the Film Museum.

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