Eccentricities of a Blonde-Haired Girl (2009) - full transcript

On a train to the Algarve, Macário tells his story to a sympathetic woman he's just met. In flashbacks he arrives in Lisbon to work as an accountant and a broker for his uncle. From his office window, he sees a young woman, Luísa: he's intrigued and finds her beautiful; she holds a Chinese fan near her face. He arranges to meet her, and they fall in love. When he tells his uncle he wants to marry, not only does his uncle disapprove, he fires Macário who then leaves his uncle's home to live on his own. Penniless, he takes a job in Cape Verde to earn some money so Luísa and he can wed. Will she wait, and what of her peculiarities? His seatmate on the train wants the whole story.


A tribute to the family
of Eça de Queiroz,

the author of this story

Adapted and updated by
Manoel de Oliveira

What you would not tell your wife,
what you would not tell your friend...

... tell it to a stranger.


I... I'm going... I'm going...

- Where are you going?
- I'm sorry, madam...

I spoke to you
without introducing myself first.

That doesn't matter at all.

In fact, it's very nice to have

to talk to on such a long journey.

- I suppose you're going to the Algarve?
- Yes, I am also going...

But I am going there in
a desperate state, madam.

In fact, it was my uncle who sent me
on this short holiday to the Algarve...

Because of the great shock
I suffered.

- And who is your uncle?
- My uncle is called Francisco

and he manages an office in Lisbon,

above the store where I work.

You can't imagine
what happened to me...

How can I imagine what happened
to someone I don't know?

With your permission,
I'll tell you everything.

- Tell me! I'm very curious to hear it.
- I really need to get it off my chest.

So tell me about it.
Talk as much as you like.

When I walked into that office for
the first time and looked outside...

What do I see?

That lady must have been captivating
at the age of twenty, full of verve.

An active temperament
with a passionate imagination.

She had a very noble profile.
Like that of a medal....

What romantic poets
would have called...

a dove of ermine, snow and gold.

It's the daughter.

Yes, I wondered if she was
the daughter of the other lady.

She waved her fan so gracefully that
you cannot even begin to imagine it.

And you fell in love with her,
didn't you?


That was my great misfortune.

Those curtains probably dated
from the time of Goethe.

They would have played
an interesting role in romances:

Pinning a flower to them,

shaking them to feel a face.

These are ancient ways in which
romance begins in art and reality.

I see you are very bitter,
my dear sir.

I am.

But what a fan...

I have never seen another one like it.

Yes. It must really be
a beautiful fan.

Yes. A beautiful fan.

But you weren't seduced by the fan.

You know...

You're arousing my curiosity.

So tell me,
what happened after that?

Two weeks later...

Luisa, look at this cashmere.
It's very beautiful.

How much does it cost per metre,

It's strange to find you here.

An accountant wanting to look after
sales at the counter.

I came to see...

I came to see if they
were being served well.

That is none of your concern.

These meatballs are wonderful.

Listen... Do you habitually allow
poor people into the store?

One hundred and fifty euros
worth of handkerchiefs are missing.

- Enter it to my account, please.
- Yes, uncle.

- I finally found you, my dear friend.
- How are you?

To get straight to the point:

Who is that woman you greeted today
in front of the store?

- It's Mrs. Vilaca. A beautiful woman.
- Is that her daughter?

- Her daughter?
- Yes.

- A fair blonde with a Chinese fan.
- Ah, yes. She's the daughter.

That's what I thought...

Yes and so?

- She's pretty.
- She's pretty.

- They're fine people, huh?
- Yes. Fine people.

All right.

- Do you know them very well?
- Not very well.

We used to meet
at Madame Claudia's house.

Why do you ask? Do you want
to be introduced to them?

See if you can find a way
to introduce me.

Every Saturday, they usually visit
a retired and very wealthy notary.

He lives in the Rua dos Calafates.
Perhaps something could be arranged.

But I'm surprised to see you here.
Are you a member as well?

No. But this gentleman
accompanied me to find you.

Then you must see something
of the Literary Circle.

This is Francisco Santos.

He knows everything about the Circle
far better than anyone else.

- Would you mind?
- Not at all sir, it would be a pleasure.

This here is a bust of the founder
of the Eça de Queiroz Literary Circle,

Mr. Antcnio Ferro, who was appointed
by Salazar as Minister for Information

and who was the founder of the NSI,
the National Secretariat for Information.

those diverse figures represent

various characters from the novels of

Eça de Queiroz.

This notary is a very cultured man, a
Latin scholar and a patron of museums.

He used to write for
the Jornal de Letras

and since he was so gallant he called
himself "Venus' Young Squire".

Look at that, "Venus' Young Squire"
in these modern and turbulent times!

- Is he really very wealthy?
- Yes he is.

And what do you think
of the current economic situation?

What do I think?
I can tell you that I'm poor.

Like the banks today.

Let's go.


- Miss?
- Yes, miss...

Because you are so young
and like a breath of fresh air.

Did you like the cashmeres
the other day?

Very much.

I'd have come closer and stayed longer
by your side, but my uncle came and...

- And who is your uncle?
- He's the store's owner,

where I saw you looking
at the cashmeres.

- So you are the man on the veranda?
- Exactly.

I was admiring you.

Your fan is delightful.

It was a gift from an aunt
who travels a lot.

It's charming,
but it's no match for...

Can I call you Miss?

So you liked the cashmeres
the other day?

Very much.

But what a beautiful fan!

I have never seen another like it.

We have just heard
a magnificent piece by Debussy,

superbly played on the harp

by the talented Ana Paula Miranda.

Now it is my pleasure

to present our beloved
Luis Miguel Cintra,

who will recite part of a poem

by one of Fernando Pessoa's
heteronyms, Alberto Caeiro.

Here is the wonderful
Luis Miguel Cintra.

"The Keeper of Sheep.
Canto 32

Yesterday afternoon a city
was talking at the inn's doorway.

He was also talking to me.

He spoke of justice
and of the struggle forjustice.

And of workers who suffer,
and of constant labour,

and of those who go hungry, and of the
wealthy who turn a blind eye to it.

And, looking at me,
he saw tears in my eyes,

and he smiled, contentedly, thinking
I was feeling the hate he was feeling,

and the compassion
he claimed to be feeling.

But I was barely listening.

What do I care for men, for what
they suffer or think they suffer?

Let them be like me...
and they won't suffer.

All the woes of the world stem
from our caring about each other.

To do good as to do evil,

all we need is our soul
and heaven and earth.

Wanting more is to lose all this,
it is to be unhappy.

And I thought to myself, while the man
of the people was speaking

(which moved me to tears).

It was like a distant whisper of bells
in that late afternoon...

Yet perhaps not the bells
of a tiny chapel...

where to mass might go flowers and
streams and simple souls like mine.

Praise God that I am not good

and that I have
the natural egotism of the flowers

and rivers which blithely
continue on their way

with no cares other

than to bloom and to flow.

That is the only mission
in the World.

Which is

to exist clearly.

And to know how to do so
without thinking about it.

And the man had stopped talking
and was looking at the sunset.

But what does someone who hates
and loves have to do with the sunset?"

Canto 33

"The poor flowers arranged so neatly in
the flowerbeds of landscaped gardens

seem to be afraid of the police!

But they are so good
that they bloom nevertheless

and they have the same ancient smile

that they had when early man
first gazed upon them,

who saw them appear
and touched them lightly

to see whether they would speak..."

- I didn't hear it clink on the floor.
- Neither did I.

- Nor I.
- There are no holes in the floor.

"Oh Richard, oh my king,
the world has abandoned you."

Beautiful girls, beautiful lasses.

"Oh Richard, oh my king,
the world has abandoned you."

Kings! Vipers!

Dear Gaudêncio,
you always were a democrat

and a great admirer of Robespierre.

I hope that you will honour
this humble cottage, neighbour.

You mean castle, my beautiful lady.

You are always so kind, sir.

I'm so sorry about the poker chip on the
night that we met at the notary's house.

- That now, is a grand house!
- Yes...

It is also a beautiful house.

Madame Vilaca, I didn't even
remember that poker chip.

I would like to ask your
permission to get married.

I would like to ask your
permission to get married.


I beg your pardon,
Uncle Francisco?

- No.
- But listen, Uncle Francisco...

- No!
- I'll get married anyway!

- I'll throw you out!
- I'll leave. Don't doubt it.

- Today.
- Today.

Stop right there!

Pass me the box of cigars.

- Uncle Francisco...
- Enough.

Today's the 12th. You'll get your
salary for the whole month.

Now go.

I would love to help, my friend.

I wish I could have you here,

but it would affect my twenty-year old
friendship with your uncle.

He told me so in no uncertain terms.
So you see...

- I'm very sorry.
- I'm no longer working with him.

I need to work
to be able to survive on my own.

And you are so familiar with my work.

- It's extremely urgent, Mr. Faleiro.
- I understand and I'm very sorry.

But I can't do anything.

Why don't you go to younger traders,
who have no ties with your uncle?

People who aren't friends
with your uncle.

It's difficult because
they don't know me.

They'll know that I was dismissed

and without knowing the reason why
it will be even worse.

And when they find out
that it was because of a blonde girl...

Commerce shuns
a sentimental accountant.

I'll take the room.

Very well. Good night.

- My mother already knows.
- I love you very much.

- Why don't you ask her for my hand?
- Darling, I cannot. I have no job.

Wait, it will perhaps...
It will perhaps be a month more.

I have some business on the way.

- We would die of hunger, my darling!
- Yes, I know.

But at least, until I signal to you from
the window, don't come back, OK?

Don't cry so loudly!

How could I?
I no longer work in the office.

I will only come back
after I have arranged something.

All right, I'll wait for you.

I can't find my hat,
which I left here just a while ago.

I think it was in that very spot.

You haven't seen it by any chance,
have you?

Aren't you going to say anything?
I'm asking you: Have you seen my hat?

Perhaps it was this chap,
the moron!

And now I've lost my hat,
which I loved so much.

Three euros. It's all that I have.
I have no clothes.

I pawned the watch that you gave me,
and I have sold everything I owned.

In a little while I will be starving.

Your office is there.
You can stay single.

- Listen to me, Uncle Francisco...
- Single, I said.

I can't.

Then get out!


Come here!

What the devil!
I've been looking for you since morning.

- It's you.
- Of course, who else would it be?

I didn't even know
you owned this shop.

It isn't my shop. I come here
sometimes to meet my friends.

I've just come from the country and
heard you're no longer with your uncle.

I can help you.

- Do you want me to?
- Everything.

There is a trading house that needs
a capable, determined and tough man,

to go to Cape Verde on a very difficult
and very profitable assignment.

Go to Cape Verde?

To Cape Verde.

I'm ready for it!

- Did you get my letter?
- I did and here I am.

- You cannot imagine how happy I am.
- I can imagine. But I am not so happy.

- But why?
- Why?

I won't be able to see you for so long
and you are leaving tomorrow itself.

I have to go.

You are doing the right thing.
You could earn some money.

I hope so.
And we will then finally be happy.

- Until you get back.
- See you soon.

"I arrived yesterday in cape Verde
on the TAP flight. "

"It was a long but comfortable journey

and here I am, already in my room
which is quite comfortable,

on the island of São Vicente. "

"Cape Verde is a group
of volcanic islands. "

"The climate is warm and pleasant,
but it rains very little,

which makes for poor harvests,
so essential for the local people. "

"And the rivers continue to flow
calmly and indifferent. "

"I hope to settle my assignment soon
and to be able to return. "

"I miss you very much and I never tire
of gazing at the portrait you gave me. "

"Lots of love. A big kiss

and an enormous hug,
from your Macário. "

Finally, I returned to Lisbon with a fair
amount of savings which gave me

some chance
of being able to build a new future.

That was good!

Not really.
You'll see why shortly.

I immediately went to meet Luisa
who was already waiting for me,

so fair and like a breath of fresh
air, with her Chinese fan.

In short,
I came back with solid finances.

But why did you say, "Not really"?

You'll see why shortly.

Impatiently, I went to ask
for Luisa's hand,

after explaining my current position.

And I was clean-shaven,
like you are seeing me now.

And you did well,
you have the face of an honest lad.

And the other day...

I have just returned from Cape Verde,

where I made a significant amount
of money.

I know, we heard all about it here.

And we, Luisa and me,
were anxiously awaiting the day.

- Believe me, Madame Vilaca...
- Please, do sit down.

Please, do sit down!

Believe me, when I say that I poured
all my passion into my work.

However, the profits from Cape Verde
are not a definitive capital,

they are just a capital that will
enable me to get started.

I brought back the seeds of
serious business from Cape Verde.

I will work heroically

to be able to raise a family

I'm sure you will, I'm sure you will.

Madame Vilaca bestowed
her daughter's hand upon me.

Today is a wonderful day!

I am very happy to hear that.

- So what did you want from me?
- You know, it's just that...

I have a chance to set myself up
with a hardware store... And...

My dear friend, whatever I can
do to help, you only need ask.


My dear friend,
I only want you to be my guarantor

and I can thus set up
my hardware store.

You can count on me.

Thank you.

What happened next,
you cannot even image...

- So what did happen?
- The unimaginable.

That friend of mine,
the man with the straw hat,

the newspaper reported that he had
disappeared with the wife of an ensign.

I was the guarantor.

And I had no option
other than to pay the debt.

I was poor once more and came back
to my shelter completely disheartened.

You were right when you said,
"Not really".

Who is it?

I've come on behalf
of Peres Company.


I've come on behalf
of Peres & Company.

Just a moment,
I'll just open the door.

- A good morning to you, Mr. Macário.
- Good morning.

Sorry, I was still in bed.

No problem. I apologise for the hour,
but I wanted to make sure I found you.

And to what do I owe your visit?

I've come on behalf
of Peres & Company.

Please come in.

Please sit down.

Mr. Eleutêrio Peres, from Peres &
Company, do you remember him?

Please continue.

- He sent you to Cape Verde...
- I know.

Mr. Eleutêrio Peres would like
to propose another trip

- and other profits to you.
- Go back to Cape Verde again!

Go back...

Make another fortune, man.

Mr. Eleutêrio says
that you're the Devil.

Think it over
and then give him an answer.

Now if you will excuse me,
I must be going.

Go back!

Recommence everything,
go back to fearing past despairs,

sweat the old cold sweats...

- Go back?!
- Yes, go back.

With another fortune.

Think about it carefully.

Think about it carefully.

Here, I was seized with fear.
Too cowardly to reveal the disaster...

The tremulous fear of a separation.
The terror of her refusing.

I didn't dare speak to her,
to explain everything.

And I came back to my old office.

I saw Luisa many times from there,

and the graceful movement
of her Chinese fan.

Who is it?

- It's me, Uncle Francisco.
- Come on up.

- I don't have a key.
- Then wait.

Here you are.

What do you want?

I have come to say goodbye.
I'm going back to Cape Verde.

Have a good trip.

- Where are you going, you fool?
- I'm going away.

Sit down there!

Your friend is a scoundrel!

A hardware store!
Not bad!

Your friend is a scoundrel.
You are a good man.

You went to Cape Verde.
I know that.

You paid everything, there it is.

I know that too.

Tomorrow, please,
I'd like you back at your desk.

I have ordered
new upholstery for the chair.

And the bills will now read
"Macário & Nephew".

And get married.

Get married
and I will lend you money.

Take some money.

You are going to need
furniture and linen.

Put it on my account.

Your bed is made.


Where are you going, you fool?

Now you want to leave this house?

Come on.

You need to eat something.

- It's a beautiful day.
- It is.

That one there, what do you think?

Shall we go in?

- Good morning.
- Good morning.

- I'd like to see rings.
- With stones and the prettiest one.

With stones, amethyst, garnets...
In short, the best you have.

Please come with me.

Look, Luisa.

It's ugly, heavy and big.

Look at this one.

- It's beautiful. It's lovely!
- Let's see if it fits you.

Oh what a pity, it's too big.

It can be made smaller.
It can be ready for you by tomorrow.

What a good idea!

It's really very beautiful.
Isn't it, Luisa?

Perhaps some earrings to match,
with pearls...

Please come with me.

- How much does it cost?
- Five hundred euros.

We will pick up the ring tomorrow.
At what time?

At noon.

Luisa, shall we go?

Shall we go, Luisa?

- All right. Well, goodbye.
- You have not yet paid, sir.

Of course not. I will come to collect the
ring tomorrow and will pay for it then.

- What about the other one?
- What other one?

The other ring.
Madam knows about it.

Pardon, if it is an old bill...

No. Madam knows about it. The
diamond ring that she took from there.

What are you trying to say?

Madam knows what I'm talking about.
She knows what she took from there.

Luisa, tell...

Please don't hurt me.

You are right.
She had obviously forgotten.

- Please.
- Just a moment please.

- How much does it cost?
- The same as the earrings.

Five hundred Euros?

Thank you very much.

Sorry. I'm sorry.

- Go away.
- But listen...

- Go away! You're a thief!
- Listen to me, Jesus!

- Go away.
- Please don't hit me here.

Go away!
I'm going to call the police!

Go away!