It's a small movie, and one that felt right to cure a bout of sleeplessness. Did not have great reviews. Is yet another one starring Jeremy Irons involving a lost/purloined book (The Words is the other). Charlotte Rampling makes another appearance in the film on the downward arc of her wonderful career.
And, of course, after a brief restart, watched it straight through.
Irons is Raimund Gregory, a university professor based in Bern, Switzerland. His life, according to himself, is mundane and uneventful. Then one morning on the way to class he saves a young woman from jumping off a bridge in an attempt at suicide. She disappears after drying off in his class, but leaves her coat behind. In one of the pockets is a book by a Portugese man, Amadeu de Prado.
Mister, or Doctor, de Prado has led an extraordinary life. He was a medical doctor; fought in the Portugese/Spanish Resistance after the death of Franco; and loved a mysterious woman, Estefania (Mélanie Laurent). The book details his exploits as a soldier, and lover. His life is everything Gregory's is not. And adding to the mystique is de Prado's premature death at 34.
So, of course, Raimund Gregory abandons his class; takes The Night Train to Lisbon; and hunts down the surviving sister (Rampling as Adriana de Prado). He also damages his glasses and falls in with a sympathetic optician/opthalmologist named Mariana (Martina Gedeck).
And along the way he learns much about de Prado via Amadeu's Uncle and fellow resistance member (Tom Courtenay as Joao) and the seductive Estefania (Lena Olin).
This journey through another man's life to find meaning in your own is an old trope, but Irons is just so damn appealing in the role. There is a send-off at the train station towards the end where, as a viewer, you realize what you hope Irons does. If he's going to change his life, and not be, as he puts it, boring, you have to be bold and make adjustments.
Start by kissing the cute redhead, Jeremy.