In this beautiful, vaguely sinister art film, two teenage girls compete for the affection of their regal grandmother and, after she dies, for ownership of her grand estate. Portuguese writer-directors Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt don't have much use for the medium shot: their movie tends to alternate between suffocating close-ups of the handsome girls and staggering long shots of them isolated against the harsh natural and architectural landscape. (In one case the two extremes are combined when a girl's profile is superimposed upon the yawning expanse of a dam.) The sense of history as a gray, oppressive force is underlined by the grandmother's dream of medieval Portugal: in one scene a knight in chain mail hangs upside down from a tree, and in another a young Arab is burned at the stake for his homosexual romance.
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The 19th annual fest opens Thursday night at Gene Siskel Film Center