A middle-aged Swiss high school teacher, on his way to school one morning, stops a young woman from jumping off a bridge. She runs away, but leaves her coat, in the pockets of which are a book of Portuguese poetry and a ticket on the night train to Lisbon. The teacher, entranced by the poetry, decides to take the train and meet the author. What he discovers is the history of three young people involved in a fairly ordinary love story, set against the extraordinary events of the end of the Salazar regime.
Jeremy Irons was born to play the role of a middle-aged intellectual who has somehow lost the thread of his life — no scenery chewing here. The supporting cast of international actors (including some whose names you may recognize, like Lena Olin and Charlotte Rampling) is excellent. Lisbon looks pretty good too — especially, the April 25 Bridge, which looks strangely familiar (it was modeled after San Francisco’s Golden Gate).
I read this book some years ago, and didn’t even realize it had become a movie. Its theatrical release, if it had one, must have been very short. Too bad — it’s a pretty good movie, one that deserves a wider audience.