Recollections of the Yellow House

Yellow is the color of my true love's walls, and floors, and almost everything else in this irreverent comedy of poor manners set in a Portuguese boarding house. Charlie Chaplin meets Dostoevksy's Undergound Man in the figure of João de Deus, a natural-born tramp with a chip on his shoulder (and a thing for epaulets). This spindly, mangy hombre, with his cavernous cheeks and sunken eyes (played by Monteiro!), his bedbugs and his mouth sores, is the curse of the landlady. What's worse, he lusts after the woman's clarinet-playing daughter, both in and out of her marching-band uniform. Still, they share the same false pride and same wretched prison-not the boarding house, but the body. With a dry humor reminiscent of the Czech New Wave and a visual sensuality that is distinctly Portuguese, with dialogue and sound orchestrated to the touch of the image, Monteiro has given deadpan a new meaning. By the end of the film, his João is a shell of his former shell and what is black humor has quietly metamorphosed into aggravated assault.

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