The story of Don Pedro I of Portugal and his dead queen, Inês del Castro, is undoubtedly one of the most celebrated Portuguese love story. It’s an epic tragedy whose grandiose has transcended the medium of storytelling, having the most recent rendition in António Ferreira’s three-fold adaptation, The Dead Queen. Instead of narrating the titular story directly, Ferreira wraps it with an umbrella story of a man, in the modern time, admitted to a psychiatric hospital for travelling by car with the corpse of his lover, and branches it off into three stories that reflect the legendary stories.
The man is Pedro (Diogo Amaral). In psychiatric ward, he’s recalling episodes from her stories, which he projects into three separate timelines. In the present timelines, Pedro is an architect meeting Inês (Joana de Verona) in a professional encounter. Then, there’s the original 14th century timeline presenting renowned story of the crown prince, against all odds, falling in love with his wife’s servant. In the future timeline, set in a dystopian world where marriage and reproduction are arranged by the society, Pedro and Inês are the lovers who defy the strict rules. In each timeline, the star-crossed lovers inhabit the same body, with the same cast and, exactly, the same personality.
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The narrative in each timeline doesn’t necessarily overlap each other. Each section tells a piece of event that will indirectly affect the upcoming event in another timeline. The general storyline doesn’t stray away from the infamous love-story, in which Pedro and Inês star-crossed love trigger political moves that will eventually end the lady’s life. Pedro’s love transcend the boundary of life and death; and, through the use of interwoven timelines, The Dead Queen attempts to signify the message. In a similar fashion as movies with multiple timelines like Jaco van Dormael’s Mr. Nobody, Ferreira’s movie also offers parallel possibilities as the story progresses; but, the basic trajectory remains the same. After all, it’s the same story presented carefully to avoid repetitions in three similar ones.
In the end, The Dead Queen‘s renditions of Pedro and Inês’ doomed love presented extravagantly in three timelines (which barely layer each other) feels superfluous and gimmicky, rather than compelling. Only Diogo Amaral’s charm saves a little grace as he compellingly transfers Pedro’s heartache into the audiences. De Verona’s performance seems rocky at some of the timelines, taking turn to shine and dim with Vera Kolodzig who portrays Constança, Pedro’s legitimate