A picaresque chronicle of Laura, a peasant maid, and Sebastian, the young orphan in her charge, against a backdrop of overflowing passion and revolutionary intrigue in Europe at the twilight of the 18th century.
THE BLACK BOOK OF FATHER DINIS explores the tumultuous lives of Laura (Lou de Laâge), a peasant maid, and Sebastian (Vasco Varela da Silva), the young orphan in her charge, against a backdrop of overflowing passion and revolutionary intrigue in Europe at the twilight of the 18th century. An unlikely adventure yarn that strides the continent, from Rome and Venice to London and Paris, with whispers of conspiracies from the clergy, the military, and the gentry, this sumptuous period piece ponders the intertwined nature of fate, desire, and duty. Conceived by director Valeria Sarmiento as an appendix to the expansive literary maze of her late partner Raul Ruiz's landmark MYSTERIES OF LISBON, this picaresque chronicle both enriches the earlier work and stands on its own as a grand meditation of the stories we construct about ourselves.
A well produced mystery period piece that spans important events (The French Revolution, the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte), the film is tripped by its barely coherent global narrative linking some good scenes. A viewer has to ask what the larger point is, and is left with abundant head scratching moments. On the other hand, this is also a good example of how making a mystery too mysterious (even though it might not really matter) can backfire.
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