14 Best Portuguese Movies You Can’t Miss

If you are looking to expand your horizons and get an introduction to Portuguese cinema, this list is for you. Portugal is a beautiful country in the south of Europe with a great cinematic view.

This list features a wide range of movies, from classics from the 40s to more recent love stories and family sagas. (It does not include Brazilian movies, only films directed by Portuguese filmmakers.) Portuguese cinema has many amazing films, which makes this list so hard to write. There are a lot of movies that deserve your attention but this are just top fourteen films to get you started. You can also watch some of these Portuguese Movies on Netflix or Amazon Prime.

 

14. Our Beloved Month of August (2008)

“Our Beloved Month of August” is a docu-drama about Portuguese social life in the countryside during the busy month of August. August is known for village parties and popular dances, processions and pilgrimages. It is also marked by the return of Portuguese immigrants.

Director Miguel Gomes combines documentaries with fictional elements to tell a story focused on the rural side of Portugal. The film not only portrays teenage love but also family problems. This is an interesting movie, with great characters, a good dialog and an engaging narration with attention to the details.

 

13. In Vanda’s Room (2000)

Vanda Duarte is a heroin addict in Lisbon. We are transported to her bedroom and to the community that surrounds her. Pedro Costa’s film is a punch in the stomach. It shows the harsh realities of a group of vulnerable people. “Vanda’s Room” is possibly one of the most disturbing portrayals on the lives of the miserable that you will ever watch. Besides, it is beautiful cinematographically and very well-executed.

 

12. The Mutants (1998)

“The Mutants” follows three homeless teenage rejected by society (but also that reject society) that struggle to survive together in the 90s. Andreia is pregnant, while Pedro and Ricardo hustle, steal and are exploited by a pornographer.

Directed and written by Teresa Villaverde, this film deals with complicated but important issues, such as teenage pregnancy, sexual exploitation, violence, and racism. With incredible performances and direction, “The Mutants” is an amazing and heart-breaking drama that any Portuguese cinema lover should watch.

 

11. Alice (2005)

Alice, a young girl, has been missing for 193 days. In an act of desperation, her father leaves the house every day and repeats the same path he walked the day Alice went missing. “Alice” tells the heart-breaking story of the impact of the disappearance of this young child.

With breathtaking performances (by Nuno Lopes and Beatriz Betarda) and an amazing photography, “Alice” tells a powerful and unique story from the amazing point of view of director Marco Martins. Besides having also a fantastic soundtrack (by Bernardo Sassetti), this film is a must-see particularly because it seems to be dedicated to the city of Lisbon.

 

10. Blood of My Blood (2011)

João Canijo’s feature film follows a regular family living on the outskirts of Lisbon that sees the tranquility of their lives shaken within a week.

Canijo’s direction skills and a great Portuguese cast allowed for the creation of real characters with a great development and growth. Furthermore, the director is known for his realism since he is not afraid to portray Portuguese households as they really are. “Blood of My Blood” is a tale that focuses on the maternal role and how family is important to overcome life’s adversities.

 

9. Abraham’s Valley (1993)

Ema is an attractive but innocent girl that ends up marrying Dr. Carlo Paiva, who she is not attracted to, but is her father’s friend. So, they move to Valley of Abraham, however, they live separate lives, with Carlos even sleeping in a different room. With time she begins to feel unhappy about her marriage so, she takes a lover.

“Abraham’s Valley” is one of the most extraordinary achievements of Portuguese cinema. It confirms that director Manoel de Oliveira is among the world’s greatest filmmakers. He is capable of creating an impeccable personal style and to depict the human condition in a very sensitive way.

 

8. The Green Years (1963)

Júlio, aged nineteen, has just left the provinces to settle down on the outskirts of Lisbon. We follow his difficult transition but also the people he encounters along his journey. Moreover, “The Green Years” portrayals the slow transformation of Lisbon to a more modern capital.

Paulo Rocha’s film is particularly moving because it shows the despair of younger generations trying to make a living in Lisbon in the beginning of the 60s.  “The Green Years” is an excellent example of how amazing movies can be even if they were made with little money and a small crew. Lastly, its soundtrack was made by Carlos Paredes, one of the best Portuguese guitarists ever.

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