Universal acclaim - based on 21 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 21
  2. Negative: 1 out of 21
  1. Reviewed by: J. Hoberman
    Aug 2, 2011
    Leisurely and digressive, this generally exhilarating saga ("a storm of misadventures" per Ruiz) variously suggests Victor Hugo, Stendhal, and (thanks in part to the unnatural, emphatic yet uninflected, acting) Mexican telenovelas. The score is richly romantic; the period locations are impeccable.
  2. Reviewed by: David Parkinson
    Dec 5, 2011
    Storytelling of breathtaking scale and grandeur, even if the complex plotting may twist your synapses along the way.
  3. Reviewed by: Walter Addiego
    Sep 29, 2011
    We are told at the film's beginning that we are about to see a "diary of suffering," and it is that, but the effect, after four-and-a-quarter hours, is exhilarating.
  4. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Sep 15, 2011
    It's a lot. But if you're at all inclined, it's just right.
  5. Reviewed by: Ignatiy Vishnevetsky
    Sep 15, 2011
    It's smart, energetic filmmaking that also makes for engrossing entertainment.
  6. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Sep 14, 2011
    I got a little lost while watching Mysteries of Lisbon and enjoyed the experience. It's a lavish, elegant, operatic, preposterous 19th century melodrama, with characters who change names and seemingly identities, and if you could pass a quiz on its stories within stories, you have my admiration.
  7. Reviewed by: Wesley Morris
    Aug 25, 2011
    Mysteries of Lisbon brings us far inside oil-on-canvas in a way that isn't imitative. It's simply, magically a moving picture, what a movie in the 1800s would look like.
  8. Reviewed by: Sheri Linden
    Aug 11, 2011
    The storytelling is straightforward, with a classical sheen, even as mischief and hallucination puncture the serene surface.
  9. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Aug 5, 2011
    The result is a dull, high-minded soap opera.
  10. Reviewed by: Mark Jenkins
    Aug 5, 2011
    Ruiz, whose best-known films include his 1999 adaptation of Proust's "Time Regained," coolly roams the ambiguous territories between tragedy and soap opera, and between the traditional and the modern.
  11. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Aug 4, 2011
    Once you start to ride with the rapturous, gorgeous, digressive symphony of images and words and music in this film it's completely absorbing and unlike anything you've ever seen.
  12. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Aug 4, 2011
    Made for European television and originally divided into six one-hour episodes, the movie now runs an absorbing, astonishingly fast four and a quarter hours.
  13. Reviewed by: Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Aug 4, 2011
    This enveloping dream of an epic narrative experiment comes from the great Chilean-born, France-based filmmaker Raúl Ruiz (Time Regained).
  14. Reviewed by: Noel Murray
    Aug 3, 2011
    Mysteries Of Lisbon is an odd kind of epic: It's digressive and even trifling at times, and though a large cast wanders through the frame, the individual scenes tend to be focused on just two or three people, having winding conversations about political intrigue and affairs of the heart.
  15. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Aug 3, 2011
    A four-and-a-half hour period piece littered with interconnected events spread across many years, it moves forward with fits of intrigue, interspersed with casual developments that deaden its momentum and call into question its monumental running time.
  16. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Aug 2, 2011
    Comfortable with subtle Proustian detachment, the director has taken another stab at colossal scope, this time getting lost in the cerebral folds.
  17. Reviewed by: Deborah Young
    Aug 1, 2011
    What is left is the sheer joy of storytelling, and willing audiences will find themselves caught up in a what-happens-next page-turner of a film.
  18. Reviewed by: Fernando F. Croce
    Aug 1, 2011
    A marvelously elastic storyteller, a dry wit, and a Rivettean anti-determinist, the Chilean auteur Raúl Ruiz is fascinated by narratives that dilate from within, images seemingly full of secret passageways, and fabulists who collect tales like toys.
  19. Reviewed by: Richard Mowe
    Aug 1, 2011
    A feast for the eyes, Mysteries of Lisbon deals with 19th century passions, love affairs and escapades on a broad canvas. It might have made a lovely TV series, parsed out over several weeks, but at one sitting it's a challenge.
  20. Reviewed by: Rob Nelson
    Aug 1, 2011
    A handsomely mounted adaptation of the like-titled Portuguese novel, Ruiz's 4 1/2-hour epic establishes the essential ambiguity of its chameleonic characters from the get-go and proceeds thereby, with riveting results and revelations that continue right to the end.
  21. 90
    In Mysteries of Lisbon, the prolific Chilean-born director and egghead Raúl Ruiz has achieved something remarkable, at once avant-garde and middlebrow: the apotheosis of the soap opera.
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 17 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. Sep 26, 2011
    The Mysteries of Lisbon are not so much mysteries as they are a series of conversations which always lead to some sort of revelation. These revelations are melodramatic punch lines with interlocking characters continuously finding out who their parents are, where they came from, the results of lost loves, and everything in between. If the script was written in a linear fashion with no time jumps or flashbacks, there would be no mysteries; it would just be a meandering retelling of Romeo and Juliet (and all of their cousins).

    The word meandering sounds harsh and an indictment of a script which does not know where it is going. However, I mean meandering as in there are multiple lead characters to follow and each of them has a very complicated past which takes its time to tell. The Mysteries of Lisbon is four and a half hours long; the director threw out accepted norms for audience patience in favor of showing the whole story. It is based on an 1854 novel by the Portuguese author Camilo Castelo Branco and it appears it was filmed in an unabridged fashion.

    The main character is a village priest, Padre Denis (Adriano Luz), who at first is indirectly involved in a coupleâ
    Full Review »
  2. Sep 2, 2011
    Saw this at the San Francisco Film Festival in April 2011. Long production, well produced, well acted and epic in scope. If you go for large epic tales, this is a good one to watch. Full Review »
  3. Aug 27, 2011
    A little over half for the four hour-plus-intermission riveting BBC miniseries-esque film that played at the new Bunim Munroe center at Film Society last weekend. The first half was incredible! The characters, the plot twists, dialogue, costumes, intrigue. Passion. Managed to feed the flame of 19th-century obsession for a whole two hours, that is until the second act when it imploded of its own over-the-top quirks and romantics. Would it really have been asking too much to sustain the handsome, childlike wonder that was Joao for just a little while longer? Full Review »