This is not Bille August's best work.The content of the novel written by Pascal Mercier (a.k.a. Peter Bieri) works. Bravo to August for the casting of Charlotte Rampling, Lena Olin, Tom Courtenay, Bruno Ganz, Christopher Lee, Martina Gedeck, Jeremy Irons, and Melanie Laurent (in that order). A flaw--Olin and Laurent (with moles) don't look similar. Even the novel's philosophy holds your interest only at the start.
I am used to listening to this sort of thing on the radio, and know exactly what about it is appealing. As a film, it's bloody awful. It's also not very appealing as a basic story and the various bits and pieces of philosophical mumbling just get in the way. The acting is wooden, and it is boring.
The Portuguese cosmological neglect, kind of a Portuguese version to German nihilism, embedded into Prado's prose, deeply strikes a Swiss professor. Pursuing understanding of it all, he got himself into a net of scattered lives broke apart by a right wing dictatorship The film's narrative goes gently as it was an introspective revival of a long time memory. Some existentialist quotes close the deal for a lovely movie
Amazing story and a beautiful rendition by Jeremy Irons. Although this kind of arguments are easily flooded with sordid details and obnoxious self pity (i.e. "The House of Spirits", in which Irons also appears) this movie has a perfect narrative circle and brings light to the human side of history, violence and power. At moments it is clumsy but, at the end, you know the whole is well worthy.