From the Chicago Reader (March 21, 2003). — J.R.
Manoel de Oliveira’s 2001 masterpiece explores the Portuguese city where he’s lived for more than 90 years, though it concentrates on the first 30 or so, suggesting that his childhood must have lasted a very long time. It’s a remarkable film for its effortless freedom and grace in passing between past and present, fiction and nonfiction, staged performance and archival footage (including clips from two of his earliest films, Hard Work on the River Douro and Aniki-Bobo) while integrating and sometimes even synthesizing these modes. He’s mainly interested in key images, music, and locations from the Eden of his privileged youth, and some of the film’s songs are performed by him or his wife — though we also get a fully orchestrated version of Emmanuel Nunes’s Nachtmusik 1. In Portuguese with subtitles. 61 min. (JR)