The Strange Case of Angelica(2010)
Director: Manoel de oliveira
Isaac is a young photographer living in a boarding house in Régua. In the middle of the night, he receives an urgent call from a wealthy family to come and take the last photograph of their daughter, Angelica, who died just a few days after her wedding. Arriving at the house of mourning, Isaac gets his first glimpse of Angelica and is overwhelmed by her beauty. As soon as he looks at her through the lens of his camera, the young woman appears to come back to life just for him. Isaac instantly falls in love with her. From that moment on, Angelica will haunt him night and day, until exhaustion.
The charm of “The Strange Case of Angelica” lies in the way it balances this mysticism with a thoroughly secular sense of the business of everyday life. Not that any of the nonsupernatural occurrences that surround Isaac — the Greek-chorus chitchat among his landlady and her friends; the steady work in the fields and olive groves; the rise and fall of empires and economies — are exactly banal. The world as seen through Mr. Oliveira’s lens is as fresh as if it had just been discovered and as thick with secrets as if it had always existed.
Of course, both things are more or less true, and Mr. Oliveira’s film has the added virtue of feeling entirely original even as it evokes a number of rich literary and cinematic traditions. As a ghost story, it owes more to Henry James’s psychological curiosity than to Edgar Allan Poe’s sensationalism, but it is also indebted to the various kinds of realism that flourished, in film and in novels, in the early and middle decades of the last century. Finally, though, it exhausts comparison, even to other films by this director, who has both done everything and is just getting started.
A.O. Scott (movies.nytimes.com)
Love is abstract and it’s absolute. True passion between two beings is so violent that it doesn’t even admit children. They would be disruptive to absolute love. Absolute love craves androgyny, it’s the anxiety of two beings to become just one. It’s an impossible desire, but it’s real. Here, everything is violent. This is a terrifically violent film and much more violent than my films about war, which reveal a more or less calculated violence. This is real, it kills. It comes from the individual, the person. The act of filming is... I mean, of photographing, is in itself violent. (...)
I once said that a director is like a murderer. And just as a murderer can’t avoid killing, the director can’t avoid the act of filming. It’s its own attraction and it’s fatal because it has nothing to do with life. Life is something else.
Manoel de Oliveira (A conversation with Manoel de Oliveira)