It seems to be the silly season for biopics that lure audiences into the cinema only to slap them across the face with a heavy hand full of nonsense. Steven Secretary Shainberg’s Fur, about photographer Diane Arbus, and the forthcoming Klimt from Raoul Time Regained Ruiz (starring John Malkovich) are the major offenders, but Milos Forman has certainly given them a good run for their money with his latest dreary opus.
Forman, who did such a good job on period pieces Amadeus and Valmont, struggles to marry together the Spanish Inquisition and the French Revolution with the life of Goya. Indeed Stellan Skarsgård’s Goya is not even the main character; that honour goes to Javier Bardem’s artistic heretic hunter Brother Lorenzo, whose first target is Goya’s muse Inés (Natalie Portman). From here the plot descends into the land of fantasy, with illicit children, banishments and a jump of 15 years to help incorporate the arrival of the French and just desserts for Brother Lorenzo. Aside from the waste of great talent (Buñuel’s favourite screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière’s wrote this mush) the real shame here is that a film that takes the great master’s name could at least try to evoke the raw visual power of his paintings. As it is cinematographer Javier Talk to Her Aguirresarobe’s visuals look desecrated and profane.