Mysteries of Lisbon - Mistérios de Lisboa
Ruiz took such delight in the form of plots—the texture of their exposition; the tricks they employed to introduce characters; the jolt their twists could give—that he sometimes mischievously pushed them into incoherence, piling on characters and revelations and backstories and reversals until the plot became a kind of abstract field of information without a clear sequence or plan. In Mysteries of Lisbon, his four-and-a-half-hour-long adaptation of a novel by the 19th-century Portuguese author Camilo Castelo Branco, he had the space to tell a story of breathtaking complexity that nonetheless keeps its shape. (The film also exists as a longer miniseries.) It starts with the reunion of a supposedly orphaned boy with his estranged mother and from there expands into an epic, densely peopled story of deception, intrigue, murder, elopement, and disguise, set against the backdrop of Portugal’s 1820 revolution. The result was one of Ruiz’s most successful movies, and an ultimate flowering of his later style. An NYFF48 selection.