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Overall Rating

Awesome: 6.67%
Worth A Look86.67%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 6.67%
Total Crap: 0%

2 reviews, 3 user ratings

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Goya in Bordeaux
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by Greg Muskewitz

"A visual treat without the historical bore."
4 stars

I can't exactly tell you what Goya in Bordeaux is about, but I can tell you I liked it. Many times movies are carried by strong, original stories, while their basic compositions lag. The visual impact of Goya is astounding and carries the film. Without it, Goya would be another pedestrian period piece of an under-appreciated artist.

The artist concerned here is Francisco de Goya who's played by two different actors in different points of his life: José Coronado (younger) and Francisco Rabal (much older and bullfrog-looking). Goya's a plump man who is trapped in some sort of mental anguish. His paintings are haunting and disturbing, and from a young age, he has been deaf. Pretty much on his last legs, Goya ruminates over the duration of the film about his heyday of painting, and his womanizing -mostly Cateyna, the duchess of Alba (Maribel Verdú). Goya recounts this to his daughter Rosarita (Dafne Fernández) who is intrigued by his stories. Through that, plenty of time weaving takes place.

I must admit, prior to this movie I had never heard of Francisco de Goya. He was never mentioned in school (thank you San Diego public education), I've never heard him mentioned in a conversation -nothing! It's not a prerequisite for my profession to know everything about the subject I'm about to view -I'm only 18. But it does help, and in this situation it would have been highly beneficial. To know more about him would put pieces together better, rather than having to guesstimate. Even without it, it makes for an interesting experience.

After an eye-opening, fascinating start, Goya becomes briefly dull, and again near the end it becomes amorphous and theatrical. But everything in the middle is a unique trip. Goya in Bordeaux is absolutely haunting, especially considering the alluring style it was filmed in. It was like moving art; the color scheme (red, black and blue), montage, production design (walls that look solid are dimmed, or moreover brightened exteriorly to reveal scrims), cinematography, digital effects -all perfect! Vittorio Storaro's cinematography is reminiscent of Sacha Vierny's in The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, and even the director here, Carlos Saura's last film, Tango. Saura's adroitness is followed by blazing shadows, a Lynchian/Lost Highway touch, in addition to some Cronenbergian touches (the melding and dripping of the bull's insides). The storytelling powers (also written by Saura) are weak and not nearly as compelling, but it more than makes up for it by the visuals.

The acting and cast is spectacular. Coronado is the lesser used, but still fitting Goya, whereas Rabal's wheezing, sweating, aged Goya is carefully enacted. Fernández is very attractive, and quietly spoken as his daughter. (Goya was able to aptly communicate because he read lips.) Fernández achieves a sensuality of the gaze. The real eye catcher is Maribel Verdú. Her sharp, constructed face and slender, libidinous body makes her one of the sexiest actresses I have never seen up until now. She lusts carnally on screen. Her toothy, wide, cat-grin is salacious and natural, as is she.

My interest of Goya has definitely been piqued by Saura's symbolic, sensual ride. His construction of the picture is all very noteworthy (Roque Baños' score was lively and the costume design by Pedro Moreno also stood out) -it's probably the best looking film this year next to The Cell. Saura is able to provoke keen interest and style while offering it as intriguing and spooky as he remains calm and graceful as the director. Goya in Bordeaux is something to feast the eyes on!

Final Verdict: A-.

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originally posted: 10/18/00 09:35:15
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User Comments

1/01/01 Jarek Markowiak The best art film of the year 5 stars
12/07/00 Christopher Myst How could Ebert bash this, but recommend Time Regained? Very striking! 4 stars
11/24/00 bonnie i love films but i had trouble sitting through this one 2 stars
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  15-Sep-2000 (R)



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