To what purpose, however? By now, Oliveira is a celebrity of global cinema by virtue of his age, but are his recent films any good? I can't say, except to note that I've seen and liked I'm Going Home, from back when the director was a mere nonagenarian. This is the first Oliveira I've seen since then, thanks to the Albany Public Library -- though you can also see it on a Netflix stream. It has some interesting visuals, but in its brevity it seems simply to stop rather than end properly.
It's the story of Macario, a department store clerk who grows infatuated with the titular blond. She lives next door to him, and he can see her looking out her window and waving her Chinese fan from his computer desk. Bit by bit he finds out more about her, though he ignores an important warning sign when she shoplifts 150 euros worth of goods from his store, where his uncle is the owner and his boss. That news seems strange, since Luisa moves in exalted social and cultural circles where Macario is but an interloper. Conscious of his poverty, he impoverishes himself further by quitting his job, but resolves to make good on some venture in Cape Verde in order to earn Luisa's love. His fortunes rise, fall, and rise again, but the importance of wealth and the worth of Luisa are thrown into doubt when her shoplifiting compulsion overcomes her at the jewelry store while Macario is shopping for her wedding ring.
Macario (Ricardo Trepa) notices the blonde across the way (above) and sneaks a closer look (below).
Eccentricities is a film without real closure or a "why." If you want an explanation of Luisa's kleptomania, don't hold your breath. Whether Eca de Queiros thought it required explanation or not, I can't say, and it's enough for Oliveira to show that it ultimately disillusions Macario. Let's say he doesn't offer the closure an American audience would probably expect, but the type of film Oliveira makes may not require it. We might also question the point of the flashback format, but many 19th century stories are written in that indirect fashion, as stories of characters telling stories. Oliveira isn't quite a living link to the 19th century, but he appears dedicated to sustaining a cultural continuity linking the 19th to the 21st. Above all, Eccentricities of a Blonde Haired Girl impresses me as a rigorously civilized film by a director who's probably quite conscious of his place in history in several senses of the term. I recommend it as a curiosity above all, or a kind of tribute to human potential, but some people may make more of it than that.
Composition in depth: Luisa (Catarina Wallenstein) sits down to cards as a figure in the background declaims the poetry of Fernando Pessoa.