Playful and witty, Eugène Green's first film to find UK distribution is simply unmissable.
After a 10-year wait, The Portuguese Nun is the first of visionary French filmmaker Eugène Green’s four features to be theatrically released in the UK.
Filmed in Green’s characteristically idiosyncratic and contemplative style, The Portuguese Nun tells the story of Julie, a French actress of Portuguese descent, who, visiting Lisbon for the first time – to play the role of a local nun who fell in love with a French soldier – finds herself at the axis of a swirl of identities.
Although located in the present day, in The Portuguese Nun, myth, folklore, history, past and present co-exist, so that the film acquires the timeless quality that characterises Green’s instantly recognisable world.
Like a medieval she-knight, Julie embarks on a solitary journey of self-discovery. In her search for the ultimate Holy Grail – herself – she’ll have a mysterious encounter with a suicidal count, an orphaned boy, his impoverished carer, an errant soldier, a forever missing king and, most significantly, with her mirror-image, a real Portuguese nun she observes praying in a chapel each night.
Her journey will be punctuated by Fado singers, who, as modern-day troubadours, will voice Julie’s innermost feelings in their lyrics – some set to poems written by Fernando Pessoa.
Exquisitely shot, this is an ode to Lisbon and altruistic love; but it is also a reflection on the process of filmmaking and a tribute to those who make the magic of film happen. In a conscious gesture, Green repeatedly turns the camera onto his team and hence to the process, the journey, the discovery, the interpretation and the fictional recreation of reality that film-making itself implies – which here echo those same journeys and discoveries in which we reinvent ourselves in life until we are ready to face and accept our own path.
At the beginning of her journey, Julie says, "I’ll be discovering Lisbon", and sure enough, her destiny will entail the symbiosis between this city, the fictional and the real Portuguese nun, and herself.
In the end, her initial solitude will not equate to loneliness, but to that sense of being at peace when finding and accepting yourself through loving others – so selflessly that you disappear.
First Eugène Green film ever to be distributed in the UK.
Playful and witty; emotionally arresting; visually breathtaking; profoundly uplifting.