Professor Michael Padovic, an American researcher, working on a thesis that aims to prove Shakespeare came from Spain and not from England. He leaves Paris with his wife, Hélène, to do some research at the Arrabida convent. They are greeted by a strange host, Baltar. Baltar is charmed by Hélène's mysterious presence. So, in order to divert her husband's attention, he offers him the help of the new female archivist, Piedade. Hélène is hurt to see her husband more interested in his research than in her...
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"(...) As so often before, Oliveira has filmed one of those tales buried since the dawn of time but that are begging to be exhumed as long as the archaeologist is talented. That is the case. (...) Through a system of successive cross-references, this investigation of mythology soon strikes a chord in other legends : Faust, given the genuinely diabolical personality of Baltar, the convent janitor. (...) "The Convent" is a treatise on passion, Oliveira's solution to the misfortunes of the world, since everything unfolds and unties in a reconciliation that passes via a necessary abandonment of society. (...) Catherine Deneuve and John Malkovich have generously and unhesitatingly entrusted their talents to the schemes of the Portuguese master."