My Case

Oliveira's most radical formal work is this fabulously Pirandellian exercise in self-reflexive narrative and authorial control, based on a famous play by the Portuguese writer José Régio. The scene: a carefully rehearsed play is about to start, but suddenly an intruder bursts in, demanding that “his case” be heard by the audience before any fictions begin. (The audience, ironically, is Oliveira, his crew, and an immobile camera in the fifth row.) The intruder and an actress, joined by a frantic custodian and the play's original author, each present “their cases” to the “audience.” Refusing to stop at such Beckettian games, Oliveira continues by “rewinding” the performances, restaging them until only subversion remains. Both a tribute to and a critique of the theater of the absurd, My Case brilliantly deconstructs the notion (and illusions) of performance, and nearly destroys cinema in the process.

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