Raul Ruiz's four-and-a-half-hour costume drama (2010) is one of the great achievements of his idiosyncratic career, a cavalcade of plot twists, love triangles, disguises, visual tricks, and flashbacks-within-flashbacks that summarizes his signature themes: fiction, imagination, and the pliability of meaning. Adapted from a novel by Camilo Castelo Branco and set mainly in 19th-century Portugal, the film centers on a teenager whose search for his origins uncovers countless closely guarded secrets. The sprawling plot is almost impossible to synopsize, but Ruiz's late-period style—with its inventive use of long takes and dolly shots—makes it all seem effortless and inevitable. Despite the running time (an even longer version was broadcast on Portuguese TV), the movie is never sluggish; on the contrary, it's smart, energetic filmmaking that also makes for engrossing entertainment. In Portuguese, French, and Italian with subtitles.
Director: Raoul Ruiz
Cast: Adriano Luz and Maria Bastos