The Letter (La Lettre) (1999)
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Veteran Portuguese director Manoel Oliveira brings the events and characters of a famous 17th-century French novel, La princesse de Cleves by Madame de Lafayette, to the modern day in this film about passion and matrimonial virtues. Mademoiselle de Chartres (Chiara Mastroianni) has her first experience of heartbreak when a youth who believes in free love abandons her. One night, her mother's friend Mrs. Silva introduces her to Jacques de Cleves, a doctor of good reputation. The doctor fell in love with the young girl the day he saw her in a jewelry store in the Place Vendome, choosing a necklace in the company of her mother. Mademoiselle de Chartres agrees to marry the doctor to cure her broken heart but subsequently falls in love with a young and fashionable singer, Pedro Abrunhosa. Realizing the dangers of following one's passions, her mother warns her before she dies, reminding her of her reputation and her duties to her husband. But she is too much in love to care. Besides, she is a rebellious woman at heart. Using a story written almost three centuries ago, Oliveira makes light of the social order which is affecting humanity even today. Remarkably, he does this with a good dose of humor. Chiara Mastroianni combines beauty with dignity as the woman who has no choice but to follow her passions no matter where they lead her. In competition at the 52nd Cannes Film Festival, 1999. ~ Gönül Dönmez-Colin, Rovi … More
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