(Eugene Green; Portugal; 2009)
OK, I honestly cannot work out whether the director was taking the piss or not. The film is about an actress who is in Lisbon to shoot a film based on De Guilleragues's Letters of a Portuguese Nun, and goes through a slow journey of self-enquiry and self-discovery through her encounter with a Portugueuse nun. Sounds innocuous enough. But, for long tracts of this film, the whole enterprise seemed so contrived. It looked like a Frankensteinian concoction of other directors styles – Bressonian close-ups of feet and hands, Ozu-style direct-to-camera shot/ counter-shots, and the semi-hypnotic minimalist acting reminiscent of Green's compatriot Manoel de Oliveira. Just when it seemed that this highly mannerised style was pretentiously intentional, there would be deadpan moments where the thick fog of pretention was broken by dialogue clearly intended to expose this pretentiousness as amusing. Perhaps, then, this film is not that bad, although if you strip away the question of whether of not the film is critiquing the its own arty-farty-ness, the shape and arc of the narrative was still insufficient enough to really shake the attention awake.