CB 036: Raúl Ruiz’s “Mysteries of Lisbon,” 2010.
Pedro da Silva: I caught the first boat I found, bound for Tangiers, which allowed me to board for the coins I still had in my pocket… One soon discovers that it is not difficult to disappear from the eyes of others, but that our own eyes follow us wherever we go. I continued to travel randomly, aimlessly, to lose myself.
Admittedly, I queued this up because Netflix listed it as a “long wait,” and typically they’ll just send you an extra DVD in addition to the wait listed one when it becomes available. The nerdiness of that statement didn’t hit me until I actually typed it out. Mahhh, and if you press down, forward, low punch, back + high kick, you can teleport Netflix around a charging opponent.
I knew nothing of Mysteries of Lisbon other than it was on some year-end lists. I hadn’t even bothered reading the description, which is unusual for me. Perhaps it was a gritty (grittier) reboot of The Virgin Suicides, or some modern European film noir involving some sexy, sexy espionage? Oh, the possibilities! In fact, Mysteries of Lisbon is a four-and-a-half hour, 19th century costume drama in Portuguese. Excuse me, waitress, I’m going to switch to regular.
Ruiz handles it well, though; there’s a multitude of intertwining stories, constantly weaving in and out of each other with a lot of surreal cinematography to hold your attention. Never have I ever seen so many long tracking shots. It may sound like a backhanded compliment, but Mysteries of Lisbon doesn’t feel a minute over three hours. Probably not the pull quote producers were looking for.
An aside, Ruiz cast Léa Seydoux in a small role as the love interest of several characters in the film. Seydoux is like Amy Smart’s more attractive, non-union French equivalent and easily the most appealing thing about all three movies I’ve seen her in this year (Midnight in Paris, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, and this).