Mysteries of Lisbon (2011)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Raul Ruiz's masterful adaptation of the eponymous nineteenth-century Portuguese novel (by Camilo Castelo Branco) evokes the complex intertwined narratives of Victor Hugo and Charles Dickens. The core story centers on Joao, the bastard child of an ill-fated romance between two members of the aristocracy who are forbidden to marry, and his quest to discover the truth of his parentage. But this is just the start of an engrossing tale that follows a multitude of characters whose fates conjoin, separate and then rejoin again over three decades in Portugal, Spain, France and Italy. --(C) Music Box
Art House & International , Classics , Drama , Mystery & Suspense
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Adriano Luz
as Father Dinis/Sabino Cabra/Sebastião de Melo
Maria João Bastos
as Angela de Lima
Ricardo Pereira
as Alberto de Magalhaes
José Afonso Pimentel
as Pedro da Silva - Adult
João Luis Arrais
as Pedro da Silva - Child
Clotilde Hesme
as Elisa de Montfort
Léa Seydoux
as Blanche de Montfort
Melvil Poupaud
as Ernesto Lacroze
Malik Zidi
as Visconde Armagnac
São José Correia
as Anacieta dos Remédios
Albano Jerónimo
as Count of Santa Barbara
João Baptista
as D. Pedro da Silva
Martin Loizillon
as Sebastiao de Melo
Julian Alluguette
as Benoit de Montfort
Rui Morrison
as Marquis of Montezelos
Carloto Cotta
as D. Alvaro de Albuquerque
Maria João Pinho
as Countess of Viso
Rui Morisson
as Marquis of Montezelos
Manuel Jose Mendes
as Friar Baltasar da Encarnacao
Margarida Vila-Nova
as Marquise of Alfarela
Sofia Aparício
as Countess of Penacova
Catarina Wallenstein
as Countess of Arosa
Americo Silva
as Bailiff
Ana Chagas
as Deolinda
André Gomes
as Barao de Sa
António Simão
as Novelist
Dinarte Branco
as Dilettante
Duarte Guimarães
as Registrar
Helena Coelho
as Marquise of Santa Eulalia
José Airosa
as Bernardo
Marco de Almeida
as Count of Viso
Nuno Távora
as Dilettante
Paulo Pinto
as D. Martinho de Almeida
Pedro Carmo
as Gentleman
Vânia Rodrigues
as D. Antonia
Bernard Lanneau
as Father Dinis, Father Dinis (French Voice)
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Critic Reviews for Mysteries of Lisbon

All Critics (51) | Top Critics (24)

The production design and costumes are immaculate, while Ruiz's camera glides around soirées, ducks under tables and peers from behind curtains.

Full Review… | December 6, 2011
Time Out
Top Critic

A sumptuous unravelling of secrets wrapped in tantalizing stories that gradually interconnect the lives of an ensemble of characters who seduce, betray and defend each other in the years surrounding the Peninsular War.

Full Review… | November 10, 2011
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

Based on the sprawling 19th-century novel by Camilo Castelo Branco, Chilean director Raul Ruiz renders an equally sprawling tale filled with love and war, violence and vengeance and the search for identity.

Full Review… | November 9, 2011
Toronto Star
Top Critic

This isn't one of those epics that uses length as a bludgeon. Rather than sweep, the movie spirals, twisting its viewpoint to reveal tales within tales.

Full Review… | September 30, 2011
Washington Post
Top Critic

A sprawling 19th century novel filtered through the mind of a trickster filmmaker, the late Raúl Ruiz, who both delights in and subverts his wildly complex and melodramatic source material.

Full Review… | September 29, 2011
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

It's a lot. But if you're at all inclined, it's just right.

Full Review… | September 15, 2011
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Mysteries of Lisbon


A very long melodrama based on a classic 19th Century Portuguese novel. Much of the acting is quite good if a bit stiff and some of the dialog is baroque and unrealistic. It has almost soap opera like twists and complications but the story is slow -- very slow, sometimes boringly slow. A film to be enjoyed for its cinematography and period flourishes perhaps but not a film many will find worth sitting through.

David Duncan
David Duncan

In "Mysteries of Lisbon," Joao(Joao Luis Arrias) is already suffering through school enough without the local bullies picking up on his being an orphan. After falling suddenly ill, he sees an unfamiliar figure through the feverish haze. When he recovers, Father Dinis(Adriano Luz) tells him that it was Angela(Maria Joao Bastos), a countess, who is also Joao's mother. However, all is not happiness for all concerned as she is kept prisoner by her husband who has switched her role with the maid. Still, business and wars call him away for business often which gives them time to get to know each other. But one time they miscalculate, forcing her to flee and Father Dinis also to give her sanctuary, along with a trusted servant. "Mysteries of Lisbon" is a handsomely produced film(reportedly culled from an even longer miniseries) that moves along at its own languid pace, helping to recreate a past world of much tighter social norms that are violated at one's own risk. Apparently, the Catholic Church was the witness protection program of that time period with many of the characters having a complicated back story and more than one name which can be challenging to keep track of for casual viewers.(In any case, I'm glad I did not try to see this in a theatre.) So subtle is the storytelling that I did not realize this movie took place in the 1840's until it got around to bringing up the French Revolution, as I know so very little about Portugese history.

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer


Its an impressive film, it sustains itself thematically and holds your interest for its 4 1/2 hour run time while really playing around with the audience's perception of whats real or imagined. It weaves in and out of stories and stories within those stories so seamlessly and it covers just about every standard theme imaginable. 'Mysteries of Lisbon' is the very definition of the word whimsical. ' Like 'Barry Lyndon' or 'Fanny and Alexander' its bound to become a standard for considerably lengthy costume dramas

Alec Barniskis
Alec Barniskis

Super Reviewer

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