The guests staying at the Hotel Estoril - some actual historical persons, some imagined - provide an intriguing cast of characters to illustrate the divisions of society at the outbreak of WW2, when exiles of all kinds - refugees, spies, diplomats and aristocrats flocked to 'neutral' Portugal to escape the Nazi threat. The tone is wryly comical yet poignant, and reminded me of the quirky style of Wes Anderson's 'Grand Budapest Hotel'.
Estoril has any number of hotels, but we will leave them aside, not because they are smaller or cheaper but because each would deserve to play the leading role and our film already stars the Palacio.
One summer morning in 1940, the phone rang in Mr. Black's office. It was Reception.
'Senhor Cardoso would like to see you.'
Mr. Black wished he could say he was busy, but he didn't dare. If there was one person he could not refuse to see it was Cardoso, senior inspector and head of the Estoril Unit of the PVDE, the political police that dealt with extremists of all kinds, anarchists, communists, liberals.