Pedro Varela’s feature debut, A Canção de Lisboa, hits screens in Portugal
by Vitor Pinto
- Written and directed by Varela, A Canção de Lisboa is the third part in a trilogy that also includes the box-office hits The Courtyard of the Ballads and O Leão da Estrela
Pedro Varela’s A Canção de Lisboa (lit. “Lisbon Song”) opens this week in 66 theatres across Portugal, courtesy of Nos Lusomundo Audiovisuais. Loosely based on the 1933 comedy of the same name, A Canção de Lisboa [+see also:
film profile] is the last part in the so-called “Trilogy of the New Classics”. The first instalment, The Courtyard of the Ballads [+see also:
film profile], was released about a year ago and soon went on to become the most successful local feature ever at the box office, attracting nearly 608,000 cinemagoers. The second title, O Leão da Estrela [+see also:
film profile], was released in late 2015 and is currently in tenth position in the chart of the most-seen Portuguese titles, with nearly 199,000 tickets sold. Openly mainstream, featuring a mixture of popular comedians, strong marketing campaigns and unusually extensive distribution plans for a local production, the first two titles won over audiences (although not the specialised press), and it is expected that something similar will happen with A Canção de Lisboa.
Leonel Vieira (of StopLine Films), the director and producer behind the other two remakes, has now passed his director’s chair on to actor-turned-director Varela, and the film is his first feature-length movie. Varela’s credits include, among others, the TV series Os Filhos do Rock.
In addition to directing, Varela also adapted the original script, updating it to take place in the 21st century. The story focuses on Vasco (César Mourão), a medical student who lives off the money he is sent by his two rich aunts – who, in the 21st-century version, are no longer peasants, but rather eccentric lesbians. They think their nephew is a wise student, but he is actually more into a bohemian lifestyle and in love with beautiful women, particularly Alice, a girl who has a gift for music, who is the daughter of the next prime minister. The same day that Vasco fails an oral exam, he also receives an email announcing the arrival of his two aunts – and so his chaotic adventures begin…
Besides Mourão in the lead role, the cast also includes Miguel Guilherme, Luana Martau, Marcus Majella, Maria Vieira, São José Lapa, Carla Vasconcelos, Dinarte de Freitas, Dmitry Bogomolov and Ruy de Carvalho. The original film included the legendary “Canção do Estudante” – a song that is still sung to this day at Portuguese universities. The remake also tries to explore the musical element further by hiring popular young songwriter Miguel Araújo to compose the film’s theme tunes.
A Canção de Lisboa is the only Portuguese movie premiering during the summer season. Audiences will have to wait over a month to see another local feature hitting the screens: Ivo Ferreira’s Letters from War [+see also:
Q&A: Ivo M Ferreira
film profile] is scheduled to open on 1 September.