A Talking Picture starts off well enough, with a mother and daughter sailing from Lisbon on a cruise to Bombay. The mother, a history professor, recounts myths and legends at each port of call — Henry the Navigator heading forth, the founding of the Acropolis. If the entire film kept this pace — a tour through lands of myth disguised as history — A Talking Picture would have been a slow and thoughtful film. It doesn't turn out that way, though. The focus switches to John Malkovich as a truly creepy ship's captain and his table of guests. Irene Pappas sings, which was quite lovely, actually, and Catherine Deneuve dresses in Galliano. There are long, stilted dinner conversations conducted in four languages. Yes, the concept is interesting — and it was fun to hear the word "polyglot" spoken in several languages — but the topics of discussion and the delivery don't live up to the promise. A Talking Picture makes My Dinner with Andre seem action packed. I can't emphasise enough how weird Malkovich has become. Is this what happens when you move to France? Should we be worried about Johnny Depp? There's no inflection in his voice, he leers and leans in too close and everything he says sounds like a come on. This is particularly disturbing when he's talking to the little girl. And then there's the ending, which I won't reveal because it must be seen to be believed, but I can only say, "What the hell?" It suddenly becomes Die Hard, minus excitement, special effects or plot. There was a whole lot of "what the hell?" going through the theatre during A Talking Picture. I doubt de Oliveira meant to illicit so much laughter from his audience. It just seemed like the only healthy response to an overwrought movie experience. (Madragoa/Gemini/Mikado/France 2 Cinema)