Based on a famous 19th Century Portuguese novel, Raul Ruiz’s Mysteries of Lisbon follows a jealous countess, a wealthy businessman and a young orphaned boy across Portugal, France, Italy and Brazil, as their lives intertwine.
At it's core, and if it were directed in a more prosaic style, Mysteries of Lisbon would essentially be one big expository soap opera. But in Ruiz's hands, and with the enveloping, mesmerizing mood he creates, it becomes something more: a tract on how life is long, complicated, messy and beautiful, and you can spend your whole life trying to understand it without coming close.
Full-blown intrigue and romanticism, women at their most delicate fainting right left and center, some awesome tracking shots and camera angles, tons of characters, locations, languages, sub-plots, costumes, and some seriously grandiose interiors. And all that over 4.5 hours.
Let's play a drinking game. Every time someone burps or faints, or if there is a parrot in the scene or a dream sequence, take a sip of your favorite alcoholic beverage. You'll stay drunk for the whole 4 1/2 hours. If someone burps when the parrot is in the room, you'll know it's near the end of the movie.
Beautifully made, well acted, impeccably produced, and somehow remote. Some good fun with the narrative threads, but I was never as engaged as I wanted to be, as I was by Ruiz's brilliant TIME REGAINED.