Mysteries of Lisbon

Director: Raoul Ruiz
Year Released: 2010
Rating: 1.5

A curious lad in an orphanage makes the noble mistake of asking a priest to tell him about his mother and father ... and it isn't a simple tale of boy-meets-girl, it's a four-and-a-half hour saga (cut from a six hour made-for-TV program) that goes every which way. Paul Klee was known for "taking a line for a walk" and it made for some inventive paintings, but whenever Ruiz takes his narrative for a walk it ends up in no-man's-land - compounding the problem with this intentional meandering is Ruiz's bone dry style, which comprises meticulously lit and furnished sets, characters stripped of any potential dynamic attributes (so much so that they appear to be well-dressed automatons) and tracking shots that go left, then right, then sometimes (!) left again. To appreciate this filmmaker's output requires overlooking the possible need for things like human warmth, sympathetic characters and riveting storytelling: it's all in the surface details. Frankly, an easier route for this to have taken would have been for the priest to tell the boy "Your father was a louse" and immediately sent him to bed. Fin.