Um Filme Falado (2004)

Um Filme Falado



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

This delicate and haunting fable from elder statesman of Portuguese filmmaking Manoel de Oliveira has been intepreted in many quarters as the director's response to the violence and brutality of September 11th; it also functions a poignant reflection on the birth and death of civilization. The film begins aboard a cruise ship that departs from Lisbon and is heading to Bombay, India, with many stops along the way. On board are Rosa Maria (Leonor Silveira) and daughter Maria Joana (Filipa de … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Art House & International, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Manoel de Oliveira
In Theaters:
On DVD: Apr 5, 2005
Kino International - Official Site



as Comandante John Wale...

as Rosa Maria

as Helena

as Maria Joana

as Actor Portugujs
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Um Filme Falado

All Critics (29) | Top Critics (12)

Oliveira establishes a sense of timelessness only to catch his audience up short with a film that ultimately could scarcely be a more timely comment on the world in which we live.

Full Review… | March 18, 2005
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Structured like a chatty play in three acts.

Full Review… | March 17, 2005
L.A. Weekly
Top Critic

Extremely slow and won't be for those with no appetite for lengthy, self-serious monologues, but it also has a sharp, personal edge to it.

Full Review… | March 11, 2005
Seattle Times
Top Critic

A potent and troubling meditation on the state of Western society.

Full Review… | January 21, 2005
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

A thoughtful, provocative effort that makes up for its narrative failings with its astute philosophical musings.

December 27, 2004
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic

The freeze-frame finale is a stunner.

December 10, 2004
New York Post
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Um Filme Falado

A Talking Picture, directed by Portugues legend Manoel De Olivera, spends its first half as a badly filmed travel-log with commentary by Leonore da Silveira and an 8-year-old child, portraying her daughter.

Where they go and what they have to say holds some interest, as da Silviera speaks in grand terms regarding civilization, mythology and legends, but the clarity of the film itself looked like it was shot by a 1950's era camera. I was crying out for a polarizing filter to get rid of some of the pervasive haze.

Between the lines the film's message is about humanity, as da Silviera and daughter spend time talking to a fisherman in Marseilles, simply because he has a cute dog. The theme is then echoed when they reach Istanbul and take in the Hagia Sophia, pointing out how the Christian cathedral was conquered by the Muslims and turned into a Mosque.

There are several very static shots, filmed as if you were behind the camera looking out at the scenery; often the camera lingers after Da Silviera has left the frame, so you can see other tourists walking in front of the camera. Interesting, but something I would have edited out of my home movies.

From the previous paragraph it is obvious that there isn't much in the way of artful filming going on, although there is a nice shot where the camera films da Silviera exiting a taxi, filmed from the street, looking through the taxi window, which reflects the ancient architecture of the building behind.

As da Silviera and daughter are traveling the Mediterranean via boat, there are some almost laughable shots of the old cruise ship bobbing on the waves - looking like something Ed Wood would have produced using a toy ship in a bathtub. Add to this the ridiculous filming of the ships' prow cutting through the water to signify time passing between destinations and you've got yourself a bad home movie.

Other wasted opportunities include a showing of only a single mosaic at Pompeii (and no frescos), and while at the ampatheator in Athens, the guide points out a stone chair and says "this is a very important chair, see the inscription." Of course the camera shows the chair and inscription, which is in GREEK!! I don't read Greek and don't believe da Silviera does either - so I have no idea whose butt sat in that chair of honor.

The 2nd half of the film takes place in the dining salon aboard ship, where da Silviera and daughter are seated near the captain's table - which allows the film to focus on the captain and his honored guests - 3 VIP women who all hail from different countries, yet understand enough varied languages to be able to keep up a fluent conversation (this also speaks of the commonality of humanity). John Malkovich, who is his usual droll, restrained self, plays the captain. He notices the young girl, so after the meal approaches da Silviera and invites her to the captain's table the following evening; an offer that she demonstrably refuses as if she believed Malkovich was hitting on her - truly odd.

At the next evening's supper, Capt. Malkovich cajoles a famous Greek actress and singer to do a number for the guests. The song, sung in Greek and going on way too long, is about the missing leaves of the trees and how they were blown away by a harsh north wind.

The film has a surprising twist at the end, and when the final frame freezes on Malkovich's face you understand the message of the centuries of civilization and humanity - striving forward and creating through strife, chaos and loss, as a reprise of the Greek song plays over the credits.

paul sandberg

Super Reviewer


the dialogues are fascinating, and informative. every inquisitive child's dream parent (and any nurturing parent's dream daughter) -- though the dinner banter between the comandante and his 3-5 lady guests were hard to decipher for their varied political subtexts :)


What initially appear to be a travelogue/history lesson placed in a fictional narrative that resembles The Odyssey in reverse becomes a meditation on Western civilization, culture, and how the past is forever shaping the present.

This is probably the most talky film I've seen (in 5 languages no less!), but it requires more contemplation than most of the so called minimalist films that people describe as contemplative cinema. The ending is unexpected to say the least (I would call it Bunuelesque except that it's not funny at all), but it is the only possible ending. In fact this might be the most pessimistic film I've ever seen.

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