Lisboa

 

This 1999 Spanish film could be subtitled:  No good deed goes unpunished.

 

The story is about a salesman who meets a woman while he is driving his route between Spain and Portugal.  The mature well-dressed woman is walking along the highway, supposedly her car has broken down, she has no money, and she is desperate to get to Lisbon.  She is willing to do anything if he will take her there.  At first he is sexually motivated but hesitant to get involved.  But then he does get involved as he recognizes she needs help, that something is wrong, and so he calls her family and they come to get her.  But she refuses to go with them and still wants him to take her to Lisbon. However, in a very short period of time he is willing to risk even his life to help her as her children and husband and the husband’s unpleasant assistant get involved in trying to talk the woman into returning home with them.

 

Toward the end, as it becomes ever more clear that her family members are not up to good, and as they beat the good Samaritan up, you want him to strike back at them.  At one point he is in a position to do so and you are urging him to take the gun and shoot them!

 

The ending comes quickly and surprises you.

 

What does the story end up telling you? 

 

To stay out of someone else’s family business?  That family members sometimes destroy one another?  That being a Good Samaritan can have its down side?  That you should be careful about befriending strangers?  That humans, motivated by fear and greed, are capable of evil?  That sometimes a person feels so trapped in a marriage that they will do anything to escape it?

 

All of those things are possible lessons from this unusual film.  However, I take away another message.

 

Humans are able to make profound commitments to helping a stranger and resisting evil.  What wonderful characteristics those commitments are---I would contend they are traits all of us have…though few of us nurture.