Thursday, 12 April 2012
The Portuguese Nun ★★★★☆
Leonor Baldaque stars in Eugene Green's The Portuguese Nun (2009), an unconventional adaptation of the 17th century text Letters of a Portuguese Nun - a collection of love notes which begin passionately before slowly filtering through varying conflicts of faith, feelings of despair and eventually tragedy.
French actress Julie (Baldaque) arrives in Lisbon to film a costume drama based on the aforementioned novel. She plays the titular nun, with her only other co-star playing the French naval officer who whisks her off her feet. She's already recorded the dialogue back home in Paris and all that remains is to shoot the visuals which will accompany her monologue, giving her plenty of down time to become acquainted with the city - leading to a series of bizarre, yet eye-opening encounters with various similarly lost souls.
Using the same epistolary format of its source material, The Portuguese Nun successfully feels like a collection of various episodes gentle sewn together to create one whole. It's remarkable to observe the film's protagonist slowly evolve into the character she's there to become, and thanks to this fractured approach Green is allowed to explore the novel's numerous themes without ever escaping the film's frame narrative of an isolated actress on a journey of self discovery