In order to offset all this talk about an action filled comedy I decided to add some culture to Mild Concern by seeing something a little bit classier. And so last night we were at the ICA to see Eccentricities of a Blonde-Haired Girl, a Portuguese film with a 100 year old director, Manoel de Oliveira.
At first I wasn’t sure how to take the film with its long lingering shots and bizarre, often repeated dialogue but after a few nervous giggles decided it was a comedy. While the basic plot would fit easily into a drama, that of a young man falling in love with a girl across the street from his office and then trying to make enough money to support them both, the way it was told made it so much more.
I have been thinking about what it was all about since it finished and have decided that it is all to do with the fact that the story is being told by the main man Marcário to a stranger on a train. In this sense all the dialogue is either oddly straight forward or oddly detailed and irrelevant, and major details of the plot are left out.
I will quote again the BFI, “Eccentricities of a Blonde-Haired Girl is at once a shaggy-dog story and a wry experiment in playing the codes of cinema and literature against each other.” This now makes a bit more sense when you know that like in a short story some of the specifics of a person’s actions are left out while a location or person are described in great detail. Now I’m not sure if I’m making any sense.
There was one quite bizarre scene in which the subtitles fell over a white tablecloth making them almost impossible to read. At first I took this as another playful bit of comedy messing with the medium of film but I now realise something that was mentioned over that tablecloth, the theft of some handkerchiefs, is actually a major plot point… sort of.
As a first experience with Portuguese cinema this was a real treat, being surprisingly funny and gloriously short.
“Commerce shuns sentimental accountants.”