Goya's Ghosts

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner2/05/2007

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 113 mins

Impressively made, watchable costume drama with strong performances from its three leads, despite the unusual casting.

What's it all about?
Directed by Milos Forman, Goya's Ghosts is a fictional story told through the eyes of celebrated Spanish painter Francisco Goya (Stellan Skarsgard). Javier Bardem stars as Brother Lorenzo, a member of the Spanish Inquisition, who becomes involved with Goya's teenage muse, Inez (Natalie Portman) after she is arrested for heresy.

The Good
The film spans almost 20 years of Spanish history, beginning in 1792 during the later years of the Spanish Inquisition, through the invasion of Spain by Napoleon's army to the restoration of the Spanish monarchy by Wellington. The production design is superb and Forman's approach to the language issue is interesting – the actors speak in English throughout but the extras all speak in Spanish, which works surprisingly well (Oliver Stone, take note).

Skarsgard overcomes his unusual casting (were no other Spanish actors available?) and delivers a sensitive and charismatic performance that holds the film together. Bardem is extremely good, by turns creepy, sympathetic and ultimately moving, while Portman does well (dodgy old age make-up aside), essentially playing three roles.

The Bad
Unfortunately, the second half of the film is weaker than the first. It jumps forward 15 years just as things are getting interesting and it never really engages after that. There are also some unusual casting decisions; Whoever cast Randy Quaid as the Spanish King is either a genius or an idiot, depending on your fondness for Randy Quaid.

Similarly, a sequence where Inez's family turn the tables on Lorenzo is a nice idea, but doesn't really ring true.

Worth seeing?
In short, Goya's Ghosts remains watchable thanks to its three leads and some impressive production design, but it never really takes hold of you and it's hard to see the point of it all by the end.

Film Trailer

Goya's Ghosts
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Content updated: 15/12/2019 04:38

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