Never have I watched a movie which embodies a story as much as "Eccentricities of a Blonde-haired Girl" directed by Manoel de Oliveira who directed his first movie at the age of 33 in 1941 and as recently as 2012 was still making movies, do the math and take a moment to applaud. Now what I mean when I say this movies embodies the story is that "Eccentricities of a Blonde-haired Girl" is about a young man hurt by love, telling a woman on a train his story and it is a romantic story, beautifully shot but also at times a laborious one which despite being just over 64 minutes often painfully drags. It becomes a movie which has an almost classical beauty to it, some wonderfully crafted yet simple scenes which mesmerize you but then causes you to switch off when it gets stuck into the story.
As he heads to the Algarve by train Macário (Ricardo Trêpa) strikes up a conversation with the woman sitting next to him and ends up telling her the story of how he ended up there heart broken. His story starts in Lisbon where he works as a book-keeper for his Uncle above his shop and he becomes enamoured with the pretty young woman with an even prettier flan in the window opposite his. Smitten he arranges to meet her and quickly he is in love with this woman called Luísa (Catarina Wallenstein) and wants to marry her, but his Uncle objects and when Macário quits in order to become independent and earn enough money elsewhere he finds that no one will offer him work because of their friendship with his Uncle. But just as Macário is about to give up he is offered work in Cape Verde and with Luísa agreeing to wait for him to make his fortune he heads off. But on his return things don't turn out as he planned.
So in truth I have a bit of a love hate thing going on with "Eccentricities of a Blonde-haired Girl" because when it works it is stunning but far too often it fails to truly capture your attention. An example of when it works is the simple construct of the windows, simply but beautifully shot as this relationship blossoms and we hear Macário's dialogue about his romantic feelings for the woman with the beautiful fan. In fact the scenes which focus on the use of the window are when the movie is at its best and there is a wonderful scene of Macário working at his desk with the window in the background and we are sitting waiting for Luísa's arrival.
But the trouble is that whilst "Eccentricities of a Blonde-haired Girl" has this almost classical construct it suffers at times from feeling drawn out with little of interest going on. In fact there are some scenes which at times feel like they have little to do with the actual story and are more about paying homage to Eça de Queirós whose short story it is based upon. It is a shame because if "Eccentricities of a Blonde-haired Girl" had found a consistent tone for the whole movie it would have been great.
What this all boils down to is that there is a lot to love about "Eccentricities of a Blonde-haired Girl" but unfortunately there is just as much which makes it flawed and drag on despite being only 64 minutes long.