A Talking Picture

Manoel de Oliveira is in his mid–nineties and seemingly unstoppable. If A Talking Picture is an "old man film," it is only in the sense of ancient men, like Plato and Aristotle, and here their like are women. A history professor (Leonor Silveira) and her young daughter embark in Lisbon on a cruise with stops at the places that fill the historian's imagination, from Pompeii to the pyramids at Giza. At each, they talk of myths and other truths, the inquisitive youngster in every sense following in her mother's footsteps. Meanwhile, a trio of twentieth–century goddesses, Delphine (Catherine Deneuve), Aphrodite (Stefania Sandrelli), and Helena (Irene Papas), are guests at ship captain John Malkovich's table, each speaking her native language to the perfect understanding of the others as they share fin-de-siècle regrets both cultural and personal. But while they talk and talk, other things are happening on the wine–dark seas; another world is rising to the surface, implies Oliveira, who is in a fin–du–monde mood.

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