Raul Ruiz's masterful adaptation of the eponymous nineteenth-century Portuguese novel (by Camilo Castelo Branco) evokes the complex intertwined narratives of Victor Hugo and Charles Dickens. The core story centers on Joao, the bastard child of an ill-fated romance between two members of the aristocracy who are forbidden to marry, and his quest to discover the truth of his parentage. But this is just the start of an engrossing tale that follows a multitude of characters whose fates conjoin, separate and then rejoin again over three decades in Portugal, Spain, France and Italy.
Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes
The storytelling is straightforward, with a classical sheen, even as mischief and hallucination puncture the serene surface.Sheri Linden, Los Angeles Times, 08.11.2011
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, 08.04.2011
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, 08.05.2011
A dull, high-minded soap opera.Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News, 08.04.2011