Mysteries of Lisbon

"Excellent"

Mysteries of Lisbon Review


Based on Camilo Castelo Branco's 1854 novel, late filmmaker Ruiz's ambitiously layered drama is relentlessly difficult to follow. And yet it's so gorgeously assembled that it will keep die-hard film fans happy for all four and a half hours.

Teenager Joao (Arrais) has no idea who his father is, he doesn't even have a last name. Raised by Father Dinis (Luz), he learns that he's the illegitimate son of a countess (Bastos) whose vile husband (Jeronimo) keeps her as a maid.

It also turns out that Joao is actually Pedro, son of a nobleman (Baptista). As the years pass, Pedro (later played by Pimental) finds his life deeply entwined with the dashing Alberto (Pereira), while Father Dinis reveals surprising connections through his own history.

The film is exquisitely designed and shot, as Ruiz's subtly subversive direction shifts scenes before our eyes. This reveals darker subtext, playing with memory and identity as the characters travel through a twisty epic narrative. It's not easy to keep up, as Ruiz's mischievous style throws us off by leaping around in time as characters change their names to reinvent themselves. Paying close attention offers clever layers of intrigue. But Ruiz probably didn't care if we understood every nuance.

Indeed, the skilful storytelling is instantly gripping, with scenes playfully conveyed through Pedro's most treasured possession: a puppet theatre. Thus adds offbeat wrinkles to the sense of fatalism as these people live lives not quite their own. Through mirrored scenes, flashbacks, shifting perspectives and a swirl of memories and expectations, the stories within stories unfold in a rush of feelings and images that don't always hang together.

Even though we're not always sure who we're watching or how characters interconnect, the film is a powerful exploration of deeply human urges, from sex to justice to a yearning to understand our identity and destiny. All the way, Ruiz makes wry, resonant comments on these characters as the film's witty complexity, wide range of storylines and sheer length overwhelm us. Every scene is visually and emotionally gorgeous, and yet the quantity strains our attention to the breaking point. No wonder it was originally made as a TV series.



Mysteries of Lisbon

Facts and Figures

Run time: 272 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 20th October 2010

Box Office USA: $0.1M

Budget: $2.5M

Distributed by: Music Box Films

Production compaines: Clap Filmes, Alfama Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
Fresh: 41 Rotten: 8

IMDB: 7.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Raoul Ruiz

Producer:

Starring: Adriano Luz as Padre Dinis & Sabino Cabra & Sebastião de Melo, Maria João Bastos as Ângela de Lima, Clotilde Hesme as Elisa de Montfort, José Afonso Pimentel as Pedro da Silva Adulto, João Arrais as Pedro da Silva Criança, Albano Jerónimo as Conde de Santa Bárbara, João Baptista as D. Pedro da Silva, Martin Loizillon as Padre Dinis Jovem, Julien Alluguette as Benoit, Rui Morrison as Marquês de Montezelos, Carloto Cotta as D. Álvaro de Albuquerque, Maria João Pinho as Condessa de Vizo, José Manuel Mendes as Frei Baltazar da Encarnação, as Blanche de Montfort, as Ernesto Lacroze, as Visconde Armagnac, Margarida Vila-Nova as Marquesa de Alfarela, Sofia Aparício as Condessa de Penacova, Catarina Wallenstein as Condessa de Arosa, Joana de Verona as Eugénia

Also starring:

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