Monday, November 16, 2015

Lisbon Story (1994)

I'm so glad that I recently stumbled across this film at the dollar store. It's a shame that such a gem was not purchased for what it was worth, but it is with thanks to this venue that it found it's way into my hands and before my eyes (And, to think I nearly put it back!).

This film was more than I expected it to be, because frankly it sounds like a slow-moving plot, and not very exciting:

Fritz invites his friend Phil to Lisbon, where he claims he needs his help. Phil, an idealist, wishing to help his friend and to do some work, manages to find his way there, only to show up without Fritz anywhere to be found. 

So Phil, a thoughtful and positive observer, moves into Fritz's humble abode and befriends the local children who wander playfully through the streets. Phil then starts about his work; He travels around Lisbon looking for Fritz and along the way picks up the breadcrumbs of clues as to the work Fritz had called him here to do. Phil reads the books Fritz left behind, discovering where Fritz's addled mind had been over the last month or so before he disappeared,
 ("Ah não ser eu toda a gente e toda a parte!". This phrase (roughly translated as "Would I be everybody and everywhere!"), written in one of the walls of the house where Winter's staying, is the last verse of "Ode Triunfal", a poem by Álvaro de Campos, one of the three main heteronyms of Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa.) 

and he starts to record the sounds of the city to match the images he finds that Fritz had captured. Along the way he befriends a Fado band, Madredeus, who has an enchanting lead singer. (The music is very beautiful!)

Though the idea for the film is merely intriguing enough, the scenery was beautiful and the Lisbon life captured was charmingly pleasant. Stopping to smell the roses truly feels like something of value and purpose in this film, something I believe we too often overlook the significance of in our lives. The very fact that this is an artful act is valuable. Phil even makes his mishaps seem like worthwhile events.

Ultimately though, I found the lead actor added much to the film with his endearing character; humorous in his human authenticity at his goofy mishaps, in his stumbling over himself in-love with the beautiful singer, and in his being so eager to capture the beauty of the city and to share this joy with the children (and with us). I found myself engaged through the whole film, wanting to know what Phil might wander into, what happened to Fritz, and if Phil will piece together this story he's stumbled into?

A simple, yet truly delightful film. It has settled onto my heart and nestled in to it's very own spot there.