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Goya's Ghosts (R)

Release Date: July 20th, 2007 (Angelika Cinema and Lincoln Plaza Cinemas) by Samuel Goldwyn Films.
The Cast: Javier Bardem, Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgård, Randy Quaid, Blanca Portillo, Michael Lonsdale, José Luis Gómez, Mabel Rivera.
Directed by Milos Foreman.

BASIC PREMISE: During the Spanish Inquisition, Brother Lorenzo (Bardem), who commissions a painting by Francisco Goya (Skarsgård) encourages the use of torture while Goya’s model, Ines (Portman) gets sent into prison for suspicion of being a Jew.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: This bland and meandering period piece could have been much more powerful and engaging with a more focused screenplay. Javier Bardem gives a strong performance as Brother Lorenzo, a friend of Goya’s who promotes the use of torture during the Spanish Inquisition and rapes Ines, the imprisoned daughter of a wealthy merchant, Toma (Gómez). Lorenzo must avoid the Inquisition because they know that he commissioned a portrait of himself from Goya. Meanwhile, Goya paints portraits of Queen Maria Luisa (Portillo), whose husband, King Carlos IV, played by a terribly miscast Randy Quaid, who doesn’t quite approve of the portrait. The unfocused screenplay by co-writer/director Milos Foreman abruptly jumps 15 years when Ines lives in an asylum and claims to have a daughter who had been stolen from her during the Inquisition. Lorenzo tries to help her. None of these scenes feel truly authentic except for the intricate set and costume designs. Everything else just comes across as bland and tedious with poorly developed characters and over-the-top acting by Natalie Portman in the roles of Ines and her daughter, who has become a prostitute. At a running time of 114 minutes, Goya’s Ghosts overstays its welcome and often drags.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: Unfortunately, none.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Bland, meandering, tedious and often drags.


IN A NUTSHELL: A strong performance by Javier Bardem and impressive set and costume designs don't compensate for a bland, meandering, tedious plot that often drags.


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