“Misbegotten,” Joao Canijo’s harsh update of the Electra myth, makes the “Oresteia” look positively feel-good by comparison. Shorn-haired daughter of the house Lucia, addicted to bitterness and dreaming of vengeance, passionately grieves her father, envies her dead sister, hates her mother and sleeps with her brother. The milk of human kindness has long curdled in this lugubrious Portuguese backwater where only the village idiot knows compassion. Brutish family wallowing in booze, sex, pain and lies promises little revenue for the Portuguese film industry and less for the tourist trade.
At least Agamemnon sacrificed Iphigenia to save the Greek army; he didn’t rape her and force her to have an abortion to save his reputation — or so the modern-day Clytemnestra claims, to which Lucia (Anabela Moreira) replies that big sister asked for it. Canijo’s bleak vision, though evocatively rendered, feels almost gratuitously one-note and claustrophobic. The dark closed-off cafe that forms the family kingdom has become a love-nest for the middle-aged ruling couple united by lust and murder where everyone schemes, rationalizes and threatens, conspiring in corners and moving from room to room as if pursued by restless ghosts. —Variety.com
João Canijo (born 1957) is a Portuguese film director. His film Get a Life was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival.
Canijo is one of the most prominent Portugese filmmakers and stage directors of his generation. From 1980 to 1985 he worked as an assistant director to Manoel de Oliveira, Wim Wenders, Alain Tanner and Werner Schroeter, among others. In 1988, his first film Three Less Me was selected for the Rotterdam Film Festival. Since then his other films, such as Her Mother’s Daughter (1990), Black Shoes(1998), and Get a Life (2001), have met a significant success with the critics as well as the public in Portugal. —(http://paginas.fe.up.pt/~iatu2006/JoaoCanijo.htm)