Having just reviewed Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, I'm now sitting here writing a review for another unremarkable Natalie Portman movie called Goya's Ghosts. A gritty, dark and depressing drama set during the Spanish Inquisition, Goya's Ghosts is about an acclaimed artist who gets drawn into a political game of deception, and who gets to witness the psychological and physical destruction of a beautiful young girl.
Portman playes Inés, a young woman who painter Francisco Goya (Stellan Skarsgaard) sees as his muse. When an Inquisitor, played by Javier Bardem, labels her as a heretic, Goya finds his muse whisked away to live her life in prison. Years later, after Napoleon conquers the region, Inés, whom everyone thought dead, emerges from prison, her body scarred from rape, lack of sunlight and malnutrition, and finds her way back to Goya. There, she reveals that she gave birth in prison, and Goya sets out to find her daughter.
Goya's Ghosts works on a basic level; it is gritty, complex and offers some decent performances. Those who like period pieces could certainly fare worse than Goya's Ghosts.
That being said, the movie is, ultimately, forgettable. None of the actors turn in exceptional performances, but, more importantly, the movie seems disorganized. The story spans over 15 years and writer/director Milos Forman (Man on the Moon, The People Vs. Larry Flynt) doesn't quite know what to do with everything. All the pieces are there, but the movie doesn't flow in a consistent way; after every new plot element, I lost more and more interest.
Goya's Ghosts has its moments, but Forman fails to deliver a consistently engaging story. The movie had potential but never lives up to it.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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