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Monday, May 07, 2007

Goya’s Ghosts - review

Goya’s Ghosts (15)
Dir. Milos Forman

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!!
- Especially not to turn up on an unseasonably chilly evening in the wilds of Luton… But that is where I found them and it wasn’t long before they were up to their old tricks of abducting, torturing and condemning the heretic hoards, well Natalie Portman at least…
This weird and occasionally wonderful tale of one of the most erm, well, weird and occasionally wonderful painters ever is directed by Milos ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ Forman (who has form for this kind of lavish historical romp with his excellent Amadeus). Goya’s Ghosts or ‘Fantasmas de Goya’ to give it it’s authentic Spanish title covers a torrid period of Spanish history where they suffer at the hands of the evil and hypocritical Inquisition and then suffer some more when Napoleon decides to invade. It might not be very ‘feel good’ stuff but it’s brought to vivid and passionate life by a classy cast including Natalie Portman, Javier Bardem and Stellan Skarsgard.
Key to the plot is the twisted and staggeringly malicious Brother Lorenzo (Bardem) who is having his portrait painted by Goya (a nicely weighted performance by Skarsgard conveying both his mischievous nature and his virtuousness). The two men’s lives are rocked by the shapely form of Ines (Natalie Portman) Goya’s muse with an angel’s face but a body liable to ignite the lustful desires of even the most zealous monk – ahem, Lorenzo – I’m looking at you here.
Portman is delightful, handling her difficult role well – the torture scenes are especially grim and she also plays the equally beguiling illegitimate daughter of Ines towards the end of the film. But having been imprisoned by the Inquisition for supposedly being a Jew, Ines suffers terribly at the hands of the wicked monks and Lorenzo in particular. This is despite the noble actions of Goya but she is left to rot for fifteen years and is only freed when the French take over.
Goya’s Ghosts delivers much to be admired but doesn’t quite match the power or the wonder of Forman’s earlier classics. In the end you might find that the film simply whets your appetite and makes you want to find out more about the enigmatic Goya. The opening and closing title credits are a fantastic gallery of the painter’s work, which for me, are worth the price of admission on their own…

Darkmatters rating system (out of 5):

Action öö – sufficient but not masses
Laughs öö – some amusing scenes
Horror ööö – nude torture and some grimness
Babes ööö – Portman, yes please (apart from after 15 years in jail!)

Overall öö1/2 (competent but not stunning)

"viva la France... eh?"

"I told you - I'm not into that kinky monk torture stuff..."

Darkmatters: H O M E
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1 comment:

Tom Wade said...

torture, heartache, pain, a period piece? Sounds like my sort of film!