16th Century couple riding horseback in elaborate outfits with serious expressionsalr

The Portuguese Woman
(A Portuguesa)

Directed by Rita Azevedo Gomes.
With Clara Riedenstein, Marcello Urgeghe, Ingrid Caven.
Portugal, 2018, DCP, color, 136 min.
French, Portuguese and German with English subtitles.
DCP source: Basilisco Filmes

Among Azevedo Gomes’ most powerful works is this striking adaptation of a Robert Musil story, set in the 16th century, of a young bride taken from her native Portugal to the remote Northern Italian kingdom of her warrior husband, who abandons her for a full eleven years while he engages in endless battle. As the bride who must invent a new life in a distant, inhospitable land, Clara Riedenstein gives an evocative performance that reveals both tenderness and steely tenacity. Few filmmakers since Robert Bresson or Tsai Ming-liang have so aptly captured the physical, psychological and spiritual experience of profound waiting as Azevedo Gomes who, like them, calibrates a rigorous minimalism of setting and action to maximize the emotional weight of every decision and indecision. Fassbinder actress Ingrid Caven appears as a one-woman chorus delivering a sung commentary on the action and adding another theatrical level and richness to Azevedo Gomes’ restrained yet sumptuous film.

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Part of film series

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Música de Câmara. The Cinema of Rita Azevedo Gomes