The production design and costumes are immaculate, while Ruiz's camera glides around soirées, ducks under tables and peers from behind curtains.
- David Jenkins, Time Out, December 06, 2011
A sumptuous unravelling of secrets wrapped in tantalizing stories that gradually interconnect the lives of an ensemble of characters who seduce, betray and defend each other in the years surrounding the Peninsular War.
- Jennie Punter, Globe and Mail, November 11, 2011
Based on the sprawling 19th-century novel by Camilo Castelo Branco, Chilean director Raul Ruiz renders an equally sprawling tale filled with love and war, violence and vengeance and the search for identity.
- Bruce Demara, Toronto Star, November 10, 2011
This isn't one of those epics that uses length as a bludgeon. Rather than sweep, the movie spirals, twisting its viewpoint to reveal tales within tales.
- Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, September 30, 2011
A sprawling 19th century novel filtered through the mind of a trickster filmmaker, the late Raúl Ruiz, who both delights in and subverts his wildly complex and melodramatic source material.
- Walter V. Addiego, San Francisco Chronicle, September 29, 2011
It's a lot. But if you're at all inclined, it's just right.
- Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune, September 15, 2011
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.
- Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, Chicago Reader, September 15, 2011
I got a little lost while watching "Mysteries of Lisbon" and enjoyed the experience.
- Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times, September 15, 2011
The casual way [Ruiz] practices difficult cinema is breathtaking.
- Wesley Morris, Boston Globe, August 25, 2011
The storytelling is straightforward, with a classical sheen, even as mischief and hallucination puncture the serene surface.
- Sheri Linden, Los Angeles Times, August 11, 2011
You can study it, like a painting, and then realize, with a gasp, that it has got hold of you like a fever.
- David Edelstein, New York Magazine, August 08, 2011
[Ruiz] stages the events with an air of intrigue that's amplified by his sly, insistently roving camera and his sinuous, theatrical long takes.
- Richard Brody, New Yorker, August 08, 2011
The story is nothing if not convoluted. Characters, subplots and overlapping narratives come and go.
- V.A. Musetto, New York Post, August 07, 2011
It's telling that the movie, after reaching a tidy payoff, takes one last spin into an epilogue that questions the actuality of almost everything that's come before.
- Mark Jenkins, NPR, August 05, 2011
A dull, high-minded soap opera.
- Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News, August 05, 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.
- Andrew O'Hehir, Salon.com, August 04, 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.
- Manohla Dargis, New York Times, August 04, 2011
A boy in a Lisbon orphanage wonders about his origins, and in response a river of stories flows from the mouths of noblemen, ladies, low-born scoundrels, priests, and sinners.
- Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly, August 03, 2011
An impossible-to-summarize narrative that has, among other things, a love triangle, several flashbacks and a rude gypsy called the Knife-Eater.
- Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York, August 03, 2011
Say what you will about 19th-century literature -- they had stories in those days (and stories within stories).
- J. Hoberman, Village Voice, August 02, 2011