Goya's Ghosts (R)

Drama 114 July 20, 2007
By Charles Petersen
Milos Forman has built his career by pushing the limits of the Hollywood biopic. Amadeus showed Mozart through the eyes of Salieri. The People vs. Larry Flint made a porn pusher look like Jimmy Stewart. Man on the Moon hinted that Andy Kaufman faked his death. One thing Forman has never done with a biopic, though, is not make a biopic. In that respect, if in no other, Goya’s Ghosts breaks new ground. Set in late-18th-century Spain, the drama centers on Goya’s muse (Natalie Portman), the daughter of a wealthy merchant who converted from Judaism. Unfortunately, Portman’s picky eating (who doesn’t like pork?) leads the Inquisition to condemn her, and it only gets worse when a young priest (Javier Bardem), in a spectacular example of scholastic logic, takes her request for prayer as an invitation to rape. Not a bad setup, but then the French Revolution sweeps in and mucks everything up. After that, the film takes as many plot twists as Pirates of the Caribbean; distinctly Goya in its emphasis on the grotesque, it shows none of the Spaniard’s artistic economy.
Milos Forman Javier Bardem, Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgård, Randy Quaid, Blanca Portillo, Michael Lonsdale, José Luis Gómez, Mabel Rivera Milos Forman, Jean-Claude Carrière Mark Albela, Denise O'Dell Samuel Goldwyn Films

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