Thanks to my Spaniard friends, this epic masterpiece of a film didn't go unnoticed by me. It's truly tragic that films this glorious will most likely slip through the fingers of many Americans, simply because it has subtitles and because the distribution here in the States is merely a whisper. Honestly, if I happened to see this without the foreknowledge that it was worth watching, I may have passed it over for something more widespread. Instead, thanks to a few friends overseas, who happened to have indulged in this film months ago and have been chatting it up ever since, I scooped this up the second it was available on DVD.
Thank you GOD!
At four and half hours in length, `Mysteries of Lisbon' may be the longest film I've ever watched; but in all realities it is most likely the most rewarding. Without much background information (my friends were wise enough to keep details to a minimum) I sat back to soak in this film almost blind, only knowing that I was told I'd really, really enjoy this.
Lush, detailed, absorbing and atmospheric to perfection; `Mysteries of Lisbon' has no comparison.
A film that is on a grand scale like classic films such as `Gone With the Wind' and `The Leopard', `Mysteries of Lisbon' makes the most of its atmosphere by fleshing out its visuals with non-debatable perfection. The depth in the cinematography is outstanding. Many this year have been pimping the gorgeous frames in `The Tree of Life', but while watching `Mysteries of Lisbon' I couldn't help but be left breathless at the way each frame was perfectly staged to create such deep moods. The breadth of each space, the creation of near three dimensional shots thanks to smart focal points and the way lighting is used to illuminate emotional shifts; it all culminates into a fantastic technical achievement. The rapturous score (equal parts mood, sensual and theatrical; and astutely placed to effect the mood) is a total highlight, and the period designs (both in clothing and in set pieces) are not only authentic but inspired (the color pallet is widespread and eye catching, and those paneled walls are jaw dropping). The acting all around is great, with Adriano Luz and Maria Joao Bastos delivering haunting portrayals of their central characters.
And that script is just amazing...
Which brings me to the main reason you're reading this; what is this story about? Well, like I mentioned before, I walked into this seemingly blind, and I feel that the least amount of details you possess before watching is better because it truly is a beautiful work of art best experienced in full. Like my title suggests, this is not my story to tell (a beautifully poignant line uttered by Padre Dinis in the film) but I do feel compelled to tell you something. `Mysteries of Lisbon', adapted from a 19th century Portuguese novel, spans decades in unearthing the origins of a young orphan. Sparking a priest to tell him the truth, this young boy uncovers the truth behind his upbringing, his secret conception, his tragic birth and his parent's torrid love affair, spiced with jealousy, divisions, violence and passion. But, in finding his own truth, this young boy is subjected to the secrets hidden deep within others around him. It appears that everyone in Lisbon is harboring some dark secret that crowds their lives with mystery.
Using excellent pacing and developmental skills (at four+ hours, `Mysteries of Lisbon' is surprisingly brisk and `to the point' thanks to smart editing and thorough development of each plot point...every frame seems necessary), the late Raul Ruiz (this was his final film) goes out with a bang, delivering a crowning achievement on every level.
Standing ovation, two thumbs up, A+...just SEE THIS MOVIE!!!