Gebo and the Shadow
Gebo and the ShadowOriginal Title: O Gebo e a Sombra
Director: Manoel de Oliveira
Portugal, France | French
Subtitles: Arabic and English
There are master filmmakers, and then there is Manoel de Oliveira. The cinema’s senior auteur – he is 103 years young – here directs a riveting French-language incarnation of a 1923 play by Portuguese modernist Raul Brandão. Starring venerable performers Claudia Cardinale
(who is honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s Festival, see page 9), Michael Lonsdale, and Jeanne Moreau, Gebo and the Shadow
explores bourgeois disillusionment
and the secrets that hide in the dark corners of family homes.
Petty accountant Gebo (Lonsdale) lives in an austere house with his wife, Doroteia (Cardinale),
and daughter-in-law, Sofia (the director’s frequent muse, Leonor Silveira). While aged Gebo wearily provides a subsistence income for the household, Doroteia longs to see her son, João (Oliveira’s grandson and frequent collaborator, Ricardo Trêpa), who has been missing from the scene for eight long years. Gebo and Sofia know the reality, but Doroteia is so heartsick that they cannot bring themselves to reveal that João is a ne’er-do-well they would all be wise to forget.
Working in a studied, theatrical style, Oliveira carefully establishes an airless world for characters
burdened by the weight of class immobility and dried-up hopes. In such a tightly structured space, João’s sudden return has an incendiary effect: anarchic and haunted, he espouses a radically amoral alternative to Gebo’s dutiful penny-counting. And yet João’s manic critique of the yokes of duty and acceptance is a kind of wisdom of its own: João may be a criminal, but the life without dreams in which Gebo, Doroteia and Sofia are trapped is the true crime.
– Kate Lawrie Van de Ven