This is among the most amusing, vertiginous, insolent, outlandish, delirious films imaginable. And perhaps, as well, the freest that Ruiz has ever made. It's the kind of project where he's absolutely free in his actions, conceiving and taking control of the film's totality; in the exercise of this paroxysmic energy he pushes the exercise of his boundless creative imagination to its zenith, unshackled in any respect by the dominant codes.Here, familiar features of Ruiz's universe - parallel worlds, baroque uncertainties, telescoping of different times, co-presence of multiple spaces, deconstruction of characters, transgression of every parameter of classical narrative - are subject to an overflowing enthusiasm and gamesmanship, drawing the spectator into an intellectual and perceptual intoxication where there is no longer anything stable to hold onto.But nothing, here, is left to chance. The internal construction of the narrative follows a very strict logic, its development generated by preordained constraints. At the outset, nine narrative themes (in principle autonomous and heterogeneous) are posed - involving characters such as nuns, priests, pirate ghosts, thieves and lambs, and objects such as magic mirrors, the Internet and a Maltese Cross - and from there the game consists of making these cellular narratives cross each other's paths. -Guy ScarpettaText IFFR 2002:Pirates. A treasure. Good and evil, just like in the fairytales. And a story that is the real treasure.A serious young man, defender of the free spirit, feels forced by his surroundings to become rich at all costs. A group of blind children tries to open the eyes of the unbelievers to the Christian faith. Retired nuns who open a brothel, to pay the running costs of the convent. These rather ironic paradoxes turn this fairytale into a philosophical fable. Strange physical abnormalities, pouches always full of money, manuscripts impossible to decipher, invisible cities and oneeyed guards: these are just a few of the ingredients essential to stories like this. Larded with theological and philosophical debate, an atmosphere of mystery and suspense emerges.Just as we are used to from Ruiz, in this costume drama, he takes us to a puzzling world filled with intellectual witticisms, where nothing is what it seems. The nine separate storylines, with references to fairytales by Andersen and the Brothers Grimm, as well as Portuguese, Chilean and Jewish folklore, intersect in a mathematical pattern until only one remains. Ruiz has made a stylistically masterful film in which the actors, led by Melvil Poupaud, strike exactly the right chord.