Abraham’s Valley Screen 6 articles

Abraham’s Valley


Abraham’s Valley Poster
  • No movie by de Oliveira has ever been distributed in the United States, and alas, none of what makes him such an extraordinary figure can be assumed to be common knowledge. ... It’s neither his worst movie nor his best, in my opinion; but it offers something no other movie in town can even approximate: a precise but complex sense of how the 19th century might look at the 20th (unlike Merchant-Ivory films, which at most give you a 20th-century view of the 19th).

  • Abraham Valley [is] the story of a latter-day Madame Bovary is spun out by sober voiceover narration, giving us the hypnotic impression of reading a stately, rambling novel.

  • Oliveira's recurring motif of mirrors and visual reflections further illustrate, not only the culturally perpetuated objectification of women into iconic images (in which the definition of the ideal woman is set, but pliable, embodied, not by the willful Ema, but by the uncomplaining Ritinha: dumb, servile, handsome, and virginal), but also the film's overarching theme of surrogacy and imitation.

  • Valle Abraao is a curious ignition for worldwide cine-fame: a three-hour-plus, self-consciously literary and hyper-rehearsed study of the Madame Bovary template... Oliveira’s approach is kind of a Bresson/Buñuel bouillabaisse, stressing the stiff artificiality of his scenes, and the narration over the action (which describes dialogues and actions as they happen), while at the same time going for a sarcastic satire whose very flatness is part of the joke.

  • An epic work from Oliveira's magisterial late period. Inspired by Flaubert's Madame Bovary though retaining only the novel's basic structure, the film is actually a thorough dismantling of the ethos of Falubert's era. As with other films in this stage of Oliveira's career, the film abounds with subtle absurdism. The effect is similar to traditional painting or the processional style of pre-Modern theater, but the unforgettable aura that Oliveira creates is eerily timeless.

  • A great movie for spring (despite the subject matter; chock full of whites, greens and yellows), or for anyone who can appreciate the simple joy of watching a small rural town get developed over a languorous three hours.

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