Bil’s rating (out of 5): B.
USA/Spain, 2006. The Saul Zaentz Company, Kanzaman, Antena 3 Televisión, Xuxa Producciones S.L.. Screenplay by Milos Forman, Jean-Claude Carriere. Cinematography by Javier Aguirresarobe. Produced by Saul Zaentz. Music by Varhan Orchestrovich Bauer. Production Design by Patrizia von Brandenstein. Costume Design by Yvonne Blake. Film Editing by Adam Boome.
The Spanish Inquisition gets itself in full swing under the direction of feverishly devoted priest Javier Bardem. Among the many goals of this conservative administration are the removal of Jewish life from 18th century Spain and the silencing of artistic protest to the tyrannical rule of the church, particularly in the works of painter Francisco Goya (Stellan Skarsgård). Goya is Spain’s most celebrated artist, painter of the queen’s portrait (as well as Bardem’s), but his beef with authority becomes personal when a young lady friend of his (Natalie Portman) is arrested by the Inquisition on suspicion of being a “Judaizer” (she is seen not eating pork). The only thing more horrific than the treatment to humans being inflicted by priests is what is inflicted upon the audience having to watch this dreadful piece of film, a disaster that fails from its very first step and never lets up despite some wonderful production values. Milos Forman unwisely casts an international assortment of actors, the ones who obviously learned their English dialogue phonetically jarring uncomfortably with American Portman and Swedish Skarsgard (who is just about the worst casting decision in the film). Why no one thought to leave Spain to the Spaniards is completely beyond me, because in taking on this project the filmmakers have sullied the name of one of history’s greatest creative minds. Thanks to its ripe dialogue and bad casting, its most serious scenes come off mawkish and cheesy, a shocking possibility considering that we’re dealing with the director of Amadeus and The People Vs. Larry Flynt. Carlos Saura’s Goya In Bordeaux is only marginally better but not as embarrassing, plus shows off the artist’s work more.