Cinco dias, cinco noites (Five Days, Five Nights) (1996)
Director: José Fonseca e Costa.
Starring: Paulo Pires (André), Sinde Filipe (Friend), Vítor Norte (Lambaça), Mário Moutinho (Fotografo), Diana Costa e Silva (Girl in Bus), Cucha Carvalheiro (Woman in Bus), Laura Soveral (Sra. Conceição), Teresa Roby (Júlia), Miguel Guilherme (Acácio), Joaquim Nicolau (Armando), Rita Durão (Gracinda), Canto e Castro (Uomo anziano), José Eduardo(Sergente), António Lago (GNR Soldier), Ana Padrão (Zulmira).
Álvaro Cunhal, communist party chief of Portugal, escapes from prison and tells his story
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film.
North of Portugal, 1949. An older man is helping a young man, a revolutionary, get away. They are waiting for a man who has a long rap sheet called Lambaça.
The narrator André says at the age of 19 he had to emigrate to Oporto (now the second largest city in Portugal and known for its port wine). From there he was told he could find his way over the border to Spain. Lambaça comes out of the shadows. He's not so sure about the revolutionary, who is very young, so he speaks with his friend the older man. He tells him that this is no game for children. Lambaça goes over to tell the fellow this, but starts by asking his name. It's André. He tells André that he will take him over the border if he has the balls to make it. André knows he can handle it. So Lambaça tells him that they will go in three days, at dawn.
Lambaça and André are riding on a train. They get off at a station stop. Now they will take a bus. Lambaça tells André that as they near the border with Spain, the police will stop the bus. Sometimes they ask people to show their papers. André senses that they are being watched. He walks away from Lambaça. He looks at the two fellows and they look at him, but they turn and go the other way. Lambaça and André have their photos taken by a local photographer. The guide now says that André will get off the bus a little before the bus checkpoint. He is to walk calmly passed the check point. The guards will think he is just going to go to the nearby village. On the other side of the checkpoint, Lambaça will stop the bus and André will get back on.
André sits down on the bus facing a pretty girl and her mother. The mother offers André some bread and sausage. André says he doesn't want anything, but the mother calls him over to sit across facing her, so he does that. The woman says they are going back to their home just over the border in Spain. She says they are also looking to find her niece a husband.
Lambaça sees two policemen on horses coming along the road. He tells André that it's time to go. André gets up and rings the bell after the bus has passed the two horsemen. The bus stops and he gets off. He walks down the streets of a village. He runs into his own bus. He sneaks around the bus and keeps walking. He runs a bit even though Lambaça told him not to.
André walks and walks but there is no sign of the bus. He wonders if Lambaça tricked him. Maybe he wanted André to get caught as he sneaked around the bus? And he wonders is this the way? And here comes the bus. But the bus just passes him by. So he keeps walking. He finally comes to a village down below. He walks to the village. There are very few people walking around. André sits down to rest. He gets a drink from a faucet. And now we see Lambaça wating in the village.
He stays back so André doesn't see him. But then he slowly approaches him He asks André to be calm. A policeman got on the bus and it was impossible to stop and pick up André, who tells the man he doesn't think he can trust him. He now asks Lambaça what's his plan? The older man says let's get some dinner. At dinner Lambaça asks now for two thousand instead of the agreed upon one thousand. André gets pretty angry about it, but he agrees to it. What choice does he have? He notes that Lambaça carries a revolver with him. So André decides to walk behind Lambaça and not in front of him where he could be shot in the back. They tramp through the forest through the night by the light of a full-moon. André asks if they have already passed over the border into Spain? No.
Shots are heard. Lambaça hesitates for awhile, but soon enough he starts heading back telling André to come with him. They go back to the little village. They go inside a house into a dining area. A woman is there screaming invectives about some man who won't pay her. She goes on and on until she realizes that the two men are just staring at her. She leaves.
Two fellows come into the place. They stare at Lambaça and André. A little while letter Lambaça goes outside with one of the fellows, Acácio, while the other fellow sits down and keeps staring at André. Acácio lights a fire works rocket and it takes off up into the air and explodes. Someone fires off two rockets, so Acácio tells Lambaça it will be two days. Lambaça says they will stay here overnight. They go back into the house.
Acácio takes André outside. He takes the large man into a barn and has him sleep up in the hay loft. The next morning he is awakened by the mooing of the cows. He goes down the ladder and opens the barn door. He sees a pretty girl standing nearby. They smile at each other. He follows her. The girl asks her mother who the man is? Mother doesn't know. She only knows he came with Lambaça. André comes in. The girl pours him some coffee. She tells her father that he looks so young. (It seems like they all say this about André.) Father sits down and tells André that smuggling people is a very serious business with lots of penalties. He says he had a gun accident when his daughter was young. He touched his rifle and it went off with the bullet hitting the girl in the face. André asks if his daughter died? He says no. André looks at the pretty girl he followed, but dad says it's the other daughter (the one that was carrying on about a man not paying her).
Lambaça comes in and waves at the father and André. André gets up to follow his guide outside. The two men start walking again through the forest. At night they sleep in a cave at the bottom of a hill.
In the morning André is awakened by the ring of the bells around the goats' throats. Lambaça hears a horse neigh and seestwo border guards fixing something to eat. Lambaça tells André that they have to get out of here now. Just like always, he doesn't tell André why. They go up and up and up and André is getting very tired. He collapses and falls asleep on the trail. Lambaça comes back for him. André awakens and demands to know when are they going to go over the border? He demands an answer. André says his guide is trying to trick him. They go and go and go but never get to any border.
They come upon a farm and they are going to stay over. Lambaça says they will stay there for the night, but André says that neither of them are going to stay over night. So they struggle a bit with each other. Lambaça goes up to get something to eat at Zulmira's place, while André stays outside. Lambaça tells Zulmira that he has to go out, so she should watch over André. Zulmira asks André very nicely to come up and have something to eat. He comes up. She has a baby. Lambaça comes back and tells André that they have to go.
A border guard comes to the place where Acácio lives. He browbeats everybody living there trying to get them to admit they have seen André. They grab Acácio and threaten to take him in if he doesn't admit he has seen André. The sergeant also wants to know where is Lambaça?
Lambaça walks André by a river. At night they come to another farm. But it turns out to be the one where Zulmira lives. André asks where is the father of the baby? Lambaça just scoffs at the very idea. Zulmira goes and gets her baby and she sits near André and feeds the baby with breast milk. (very brief nudity) Lambaça has been pawing at Zulmira's breasts on a couple of occasions. And at dinner he says that Zulmira basically can have sex with the young fellow first, but then she has to have sex with him. André says he doesn't want her. Zulmira seems disappointed. After dinner Lambaça goes to have sex with the young woman.
André sleeps on a bench. In the morning he goes out to smoke. Lambaça gets up. And again the two go walking. André keeps looking back at Zulmira's place. When they take a break Lambaça says he knows André was smitten by Zulmira, so why didn't he sleep with her? No answer. He also says Zulmira wanted to have sex with André.
They continue walking and Lambaça says that they are already in Spain. He turns his head and says we're over the border, my friend. They go down by tje river and the guide says he will cross over here in a boat that will come for him. On the other side he will see a town and the station on the left. Ask for a ticket for Madrid or whatever. Here comes the boat. Lambaça gives him his passport and says goodbye.
I thought this was going to be an historical film. After all, the little reviews said this was the story of Álvaro Cunhal, communist party chief of Portugal, after he escaped from prison. But it is a rather strange story. The character André is desperately trying to get out of Portugal and into Spain. He has paid a guide to take him over the border. But now begins a kind of nightmare for André because the guide keeps taking him out for these long walks only to come back often to the place from where they started. The guide always says there was some reason or another why they couldn't go across the border. So they are always starting out fresh everyday supposedly trying to cross the border into Spain. André comes to believe that his guide is trying to rob him or trick him. To tell the truth I thought the young man was being paraded around to the different houses with marriageable women in them, so they could see if a match could be made between the woman and André. Well, if it was a tour, André never did hit it off well enough to become a candidate for marriage. So with a no-match for André, the guide finally let him cross into Spain. So now I am wondering what was the purpose of all those false starts and false hopes? The story was starting to feel a bit surreal to me with André running around in circles. Vítor Norte as Lambaça the guide was very good.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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