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A tale of an obsessive love affair, Manoel de Oliveira's Francisca is based on a novel by Agustina Bessa-Luís, whose work he'd later adapt twice more. The book's re-telling of a troubled passage in real-life author Camilo Castelo Branco life (his friend José Augusto embarked on a perverse game of marital cat and mouse with Francisca, the woman the novelist loved) led Oliveira to new levels of stylistic and formal imagination. (It helped that his wife, a distant relative of the historical Francisca, gave him access to a cache of the woman's letters.) With its elaborate title cards, its abundance of shots in which the action is oriented directly toward the camera, its gloomy interiors, and its show-stopping gala set-pieces, Francisca is an exacting, sumptuous and utterly inimitable cinematic experience, and one of Oliveira's crowning achievements.