This 1981 masterwork from Portuguese writer-director Manoel de Oliveira—his sixth feature in a career that spanned from 1931 to his death in 2015—was reportedly written over a week after another project fell through. Based on a then-recently published novel by Agustina Bessa-Luís (who would go on to collaborate with Oliveira many times), the film has as one of its central characters the novelist Camilo Castelo Branco, whose book, Doomed Love, Oliveira adapted a few years prior. Set in 19th-century Portugal, the story follows the tumultuous relationship between Castelo Branco’s friend, the aristocratic José Augusto, and the title character; the former sets his sights upon the English maiden after he learns of Castelo Branco’s affection for her. (All these people existed in real life—incidentally, Oliveira’s wife was a distant relative of Francisca and as a result had access to some of her letters.) José Augusto and Francisca elope, but their union is an unhappy one; fueled by jealousy and obsession, Augusto punishes Fanny up until her death from tuberculosis. The film is a provocative blend of classical and modernist modes of filmmaking. Its sets and costumes are as lush as one would expect from a film detailing this kind of passionate, historical romance, but the actors deliver their lines staidly, often looking directly into the camera as they sit or stand unmoving in painterly tableaux. Imagine something like Visconti’s The Leopard or Senso with acting out of a Straub-Huillet or Marguerite Duras film. Random title cards situate the minimally presented drama—the film hangs in the balance between the inherent artifice of literature and cinema and the tangible constitution of history and life.