With “Mysteries of Lisbon,” award-winning Chilean director Raúl Ruíz gives a period piece that sets us in a romantic backdrop with intrigue and forbidden love. The film is based on the novel of the same name by acclaimed Portuguese author Camilo Castelo Branco.
Here is the official synopsis from the film’s site:
- Mysteries of Lisbon plunges us into a veritable whirlwind of adventures and escapades, coincidences and revelations, sentiments and violent passions, vengeance, love affairs, all wrapped in a rhapsodic voyage that takes us from Portugal to France, Italy, and as far as Brazil. In this Lisbon of intrigue and hidden identities, we encounter a series of characters all somewhat linked to the destiny of Pedro da Silva, orphan in a boarding school. Father Dinis, a descendent of the aristocratic libertines, later becomes a hero who defends justice, a countess maddened by her jealousy and set on her vengeance, a prosperous businessman who had mysteriously made his fortune as a bloodthirsty pirate; these and many more all cross in a story set in the 19th century and all searching for the true identity of our main character.
From the trailer, we are able to discern that Joao is the orphan in search of his mother and has been in the orphanage since infancy and has no clue of where he came from. The other orphans have come to the conclusion that he is the son of Father Dinis. Somewhere along the way, we see that Joao eventually finds his mother, who is a countess with a very jealous husband, but yet she has fallen in love with another man. It is a forbidden love and perhaps as a result of it came Joao. There are sword duels, murder and passion all balled up into one, but all the while the search continues for our protagonist on his true identity.
If you listen to the dialogue carefully, you can hear the change from Portuguese to French and Italian. The similarities/differences of the three languages are so distinct that one does not need to listen too carefully to know when we have landed in France or Italy.
The original score adds to the feel of authenticity of the period film and, in my opinion, makes the movie more believable in its endeavors of properly adapting this novel to the widescreen. The trailer gave me a “Pride & Prejudice” (2005) nostalgic feeling, but this story is just so much grittier than “Pride & Prejudice.”
“Mysteries of Lisbon” has a limited release to the top 10 markets in the United States, so this film most likely will not reach my little Mid-Atlantic home. However, for those of you in the top 10 markets of the U.S., will you be checking out this award-winning foreign film?
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