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The Strange Case of Angélica 

Manoel de Oliveira's incomplete study of life and love

click to enlarge Not quite dead? Pilar Lpez de Ayala portrays Anglica
  • Not quite dead? Pilar Lpez de Ayala portrays Anglica

What kind of sexual fantasies does a 102-year-old man have? To find out, see Manoel de Oliveira's The Strange Case of Angélica, the centenarian filmmaker's beautifully shot, slowly paced and rather trite story of Isaac, a photographer asked to take pictures of a young woman who's just died. As he looks through his viewfinder, she smiles at him, then she does it again on the prints that he hangs to dry. Is the camera a magic lens that sees what the all-too-human eye can't? A Chopin sonata pursues the action, much of it shot in expressive near-darkness, with very little dialogue of any import, so it often looks and feels like a play written by a lighting designer. It contemplates changing times, and it has an almost Buñuelian quality, only without a hint of dark irony. Angélica's ghost visits Isaac at night, lifts him up and takes him on a tour of the city. "Perhaps it was a hallucination," he tells himself. "Could I have been to that place of absolute love I've heard about?" Well, perhaps. But we know nothing about why he's looking for it, and if that's where he went, he got there with the corpse of a woman he never met. Welcome to love at 102. In Portuguese, with subtitles. Starts Fri., March 25. Regent Square

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