Chilean director Valeria Sarmiento—who’s also the long-time editor and partner of late master Raúl Ruiz—conceived this decorous 2018 period piece as an addendum to Ruiz’s 2010 tour de force Mysteries of Lisbon (Ruiz had intended to direct, but he passed away the year after Mysteries was released), which was based on the eponymous 1854 novel by Portuguese writer Camilo Castelo Branco. Again based on a novel by Castelo Branco (here his 1855 novel Livro Negro de Padre Dinis) and scripted by screenwriter Carlos Saboga, this could be termed a prequel to Ruiz’s previous work but is appreciable as a standalone film. Set in the late 18th century, it centers on a beautiful young maid, Laura (Lou de Laâge), who takes care of the orphan Sebastian; the story, like those put forth in Mysteries, is labyrinthine, and includes—but is certainly not limited to—passionate romance, revelations of identity, and even an assasination attempt against Napoleon. All that’s to say the plot is too sinuous to recount, but much like Ruiz’s film, it’s easy (and worthwhile) to get lost in. Sarmiento made a concerted decision to focus on Laura rather than her cardinal father, by whom Ruiz was particularly intrigued; the results emphasize what’s lacking in Ruiz’s masterpiece, namely the perspective of the women, who account for many of the characters but whose inner worlds go largely unexplored. I especially liked the costumes and production design, both overseen by Isabel Branco; at times this recalls the anachronistic pomp of Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette (the pink-haired queen even makes an appearance). In French with subtitles.