Reinaldo de Medeiros | Rio de Janeiro, RJ Brazil | 10/04/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
""O Convento" is a very strange movie, but is a enchanted movie also. Let-me try to explain this. If you don't like philosophy keep distance of this movie, but if you like some philosophical concepts from Nitzche, (specifically Zarathustra) you need to take this. It is not just another "just to fun movie", instead of this, is a movie that make you think about the evil and the goodness.
And, last but not least, you get a movie with Catherine Deneuve and John Malkovich but pay attention in a very impressive performance of Luis Miguel and the beauty Leonor Silveira that compose Piedade with delicate. Luiz Miguel and Leonor Silveira outperform Malkovich and Deneuve.The only major problem: The sound isn't very good and some takes aren't good illuminated."
This is not Hollywood
nersia | Colorado | 11/30/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you are looking for action, well explained plot and millions spent on computer effects - keep looking. This film is not for you, as it follows from previous reviews, you'll be very disappointed.
But if you wander around seeking a real pleasure for eye and mind - you've found it. It is very quiet, chamber, and definitely not straightforward. It is rather a sequence of brilliant etudes of light and color played by wonderful actors. Art of cinema at it's best."
Misunderstood gem from Manoel de Oliveira, almost like a J-h
Grigory's Girl | NYC | 03/10/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is another gem from the great Manoel de Oliveira, the great Portuguese director. Many have misunderstood this film, calling it boring, unintentionally hilarious, and pretentious. O, what fools. I've seen it twice, and a 2nd viewing helps it immensely. It has a great story. Malkovich is a professor attempting to prove that Shakespeare was a Spanish Jew, not an Englishman. The film goes off in other directions after this, incorporating Faust among other things. It has great, moody photography. Quite often, scenes are in almost complete darkness, but you can still see what's important in the frame. Kudos to de Oliveira and his cinematographer on that. It gives the film a strange, surreal look. The dialogue is intelligent, intellectual, and very thought provoking. The performances are superlative, with the whole cast (who have worked with de Oliveira on many occasions) giving strange, other worldly performances. John Malkovich blends in quite well in de Oliveira's universe. He doesn't seem too out of place as many American actors in European art films do. The music score is very effective. The beginning of the film has some overacting (by Balthazaar, the assistant caretaker) and sledgehammer music cues, but after the first 10 minutes, the film really settles down and is quite good. The ending is wonderful vague as well. This film almost seems like a J-horror film, with its long takes, moody music and photography, ambiguity, and strangeness (there is no gore, though). That could be a bit of a stretch, but I think it's a valid point. I also like the fact that Manoel's films just end. They never really reach a true conclusion, and don't even build to an ambiguous one. They just stop, leaving you with a lot to think about."
A strange little trip
Kenneth Williams | Richmond, Virginia United States | 09/16/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First of all, I have no idea why this movie is called The Convent. It takes place in a monastery.
This is one of the most sincerely bizarre films I have ever seen. Moodily photographed at an (real) abandoned monastery on the Portuguese coast, this chamber drama of six characters (three couples) is a throwback to the Faust and Eden stories, both at once, and seems, despite the literary and Biblical antecedents, completely fresh and unexpected, peppered with offbeat humor and framed with a sometimes mournful, sometimes terrifying musical score by the Russian composer by Sofia Gubaidulina. (If you fall in love with the music, as I did, the pieces are called "Officitorum" and "The Seven Last Words of Christ" and both are available on CD in excellent recordings. "Officitorum is a LONG, wildly expressionist violin piece which ends in the more formal and haunting part showcased in the movie.) The international cast speaks English, French and Portuguese indifferently.
To people with a little patience, a sense of playfulness and an eye for the strange and beautiful, this film is a real Halloween treat. After having watched the movie, you don't remember it so much as a movie. You remember it more as a dream. Days later you'll ask yourself: Did I see what I thought I saw, or am I imagining it?
Frankly, I'm thrilled The Convent gotten this new inexpensive DVD release. "
Good and evil in ancient Portugal
andrew | Santa Clara, CA USA | 12/18/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"A memorable film, very odd, and more than a little creepy. Interestingly set at an medieval monastery in Portugal, this little fable of good and evil has an opaque plot and relatively slow pace that some will find frustrating.
The monastery has descended into devil-worship, and its leader has strayed from proper reverence for Lucifer. (SPOILER ALERT: THE NEXT SENTENCE EXPLAINS THE UNDERLYING PLOT OF THE FILM.) Catherine Deneuve's character arrives on the scene, and takes care of the problem; she is Satan disciplining a follower. The interest in the film, other than the setting, very atmospheric music, and good acting, is the unexpected way the dark angel appears as an apparently unthreatening woman, and punishes her wayward disciple."