Among the most essential films in Manoel de Oliveira’s vast, epoch-spanning oeuvre is this adaptation of Agustina Bessa-Luis’s 1991 transposition of Flaubert’s Madame Bovary to 20th-century Portugal. Leonor Silveira stars as Ema, who, ensnared within a loveless marriage as a young woman, takes on a succession of lovers to satiate the desires that animate her inner life—namely, her desire to be desired. Ema’s passions yield increasingly stifling consequences through her life, and as we behold her struggle to square conflicting realities, Oliveira draws us ever deeper into her labyrinthine complexity through typically captivating images that seem to hover on the precipice between the sensual and the metaphysical. An NYFF31 Main Slate selection.

Digitized and restored by Cinemateca Portuguesa – Museu do Cinema. Grading by Cinemateca and image restored by Irma Lucia Efeitos Especiais in 2016. Grading revised in 2023. Sound restored by Billy Boom in 2023.

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