Bille August‘s NIGHT TRAIN TO LISBON (2013) unfolds like Mercier’s captivating mystery novel but in motion. Brilliant characters, intimate and engaging environments that enhance a journey that started a chance encounter. This is a film that takes the idea of meeting someone that will set one on an unimaginable adventure teeming with romance and excitement and runs with it. A must see for those interested in grand stories and historical references.
Raimund Gregorius (Jeremy Irons) is a classical languages professor living and teaching in Bern, Switzerland. As he was heading to class, he ran into a mysterious Portuguese woman attempting suicide and rescues her. After staying with him a few moments, she leaves some of her belongings including a train ticket to Lisbon, Portugal. Of course, he pursues her and eventually discovers the fate of the author of a book she left behind–Amadeu de Prado (Jack Huston), a doctor who joined the resistance during the dictatorship under Antonio de Oliveira Salazar.
The instant Raimund set out to find out about the mysterious woman, the viewer quickly realize that something very special is taking place. As the film progresses, the stories and Raimund’s encounters with people while in Lisbon. Raimund chooses to live through these people and their stories transcribed in Amadeu’s memoir. Their stories, like puzzle pieces, come together as Raimund rush around to mend every hint and clue together in order to solve what has fallen into his lap.
Past and present events weave together in Raimund’s investigations and flashbacks. The Salazar’s dictatorship and influence are strongly presented. Mendez (Adriano Luz), a senior official in the secret police, and how he relates to the other characters and the mysterious woman help create tension–a perfect set-up and situations for well-written characters. The many different people Raimund encounters fascinates are relatable and yet somehow larger than life. The acting in the film is just as beautiful and as natural as the backdrops used for its settings.
Overall, Night Train to Lisbon (2013) would make a great addition to your independent film collection.
NIGHT TRAIN TO LISBON (2013) DVD Special Features include:
• “Making of Night Train to Lisbon” Featurette
• Cast and Crew Interviews
• Trailer Gallery
The interviews offers great insight into how the director chose the actors and actresses for the project. An in-depth look into Raimund’s purpose with the film, working with each other and with Jeremy Irons, how the featured cast members got into their roles, information about their particular characters, and what moved them about the script.
Art and supplementary materials courtesy ©2013 of Lionsgate Home Entertainment. All rights reserved.