September 30, 2009
Eccentricities of a Blond Hair Girl, 2009
Inasmuch as Eccentricities of a Blond Hair Girl returns to Manoel de Oliveira's recurring theme of doomed love, the film also embodies Oliveira's preoccupation with subjectivity and modes of representation. On one level is the adaptation of Eça de Queiroz's literary work into a screenplay, retaining a degree of formalism and dramatic structure associated with classical text. On another level is narrative subjectivity, where the story is told as a first-hand (and therefore, implicitly "true") account by Macário (Ricardo Trêpa) to a fellow traveler (Leonor Silveira), but, as a retelling of a past - and traumatic - event, has been shaped by the filters of personal memory. Another is the disjunction between image and reality, as embodied by the elusive object of Macário's desire, Luísa (Catarina Wallenstein), a charming, enigmatic young woman who captures his attention one day from a neighboring window in his office. Facing disinheritance from his uncle and benefactor, Tio Francisco (Diogo Dória) after announcing his plans to marry Luísa, Macário decides to forge his own path and agrees to take on an extended assignment in Cape Verde in the hopes of raising enough money to start a new life with his beloved. However, when Macário becomes unwittingly implicated in his business acquaintance's messy private affairs, his destiny seems once again determined by honor and obligation. With a slender running time of 64 minutes, Eccentricities of a Blond Hair Girl is a compact, richly textured illustration of Oliveira's multivalent approach to storytelling - distilling human desire into its unexpected, essential incarnations to create not only a timeless story of longing and unrequited love, but also a relevant, modern day cautionary tale on materialism and excess.