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Two actors, as their make up is applied, talk about the size of their parts. Then into the film: Laurence Sterne's unfilmable novel, Tristram Shandy, a fictive autobiography wherein the narrator, interrupted constantly, takes the entire story to be born. The film tracks between "Shandy" and behind the scenes. Size matters: parts, egos, shoes, noses. The lead's girlfriend, with their infant son, is up from London for the night, wanting sex; interruptions are constant. Scenes are shot, re-shot, and discarded. The purpose of the project is elusive. Fathers and sons; men and women; cocks and bulls. Life is amorphous, too full and too rich to be captured in one narrative.Written by
Why "Tristram Shandy"? This is the book that many people said is unfilmable.
I think that's the attraction. "Tristram Shandy" was a post-modern classic written before there was any modernism to be post about. So it was way ahead of its time and, in fact, for those who haven't heard of it, it was actually listed as number eight on the Observer's top 100 books of all time.
That was a *chronological* list.
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Opening credits have (intentional) spacing issues, and mismatched fonts. See more »
Just as with "In This World," the British DVD features a 1.78:1 transfer of the film. Although the film was shot for release in theaters at 2.35:1, because it was made on DV, the total space of the filmed image was 1.78. The film was masked for theatrical release, as the director intended. However, for DVD release, the film was transferred open matte. Again, like "In This World," only the American DVD respects the theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1. See more »
Tristram Shandy, the complex novel, by Laurence Sterne, comes to the screen thanks to the adaptation and direction of Micahel Winterbottom, a man that likes to take risks. The idea of mixing the goings on of a film being made based on the novel, and the people behind the project presents some original ideas about what goes on behind the scenes.
This film within a film, showcases the talents of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, two funny English comedians that haven't been seen much on this side of the Atlantic, but who are quite well known in the U.K.
The Sterne novel is just a pretext for making sense of the book, which presents tremendous challenge to the movie makers. On the one level we see the story of the birth of the hero of the novel, and on the other, we watch a somewhat conceited actor going through the process of the filming as he and the company socialize in a posh hotel.
The basic premise of the film presents a problem with American audiences drawn to the film by the good notices it received from the local critics. Judging the reaction of the audience the other day at the Angelika, one wonders if the film was understood as almost no laughter could be heard in response to some of the clever and funny things happening on the screen. In fact, it seems baffling to this viewer the response of what appeared to be an audience of mostly cool NYU students.
What Mr. Winterbottom gets is excellent acting from most of this multi talented cast. Steve Coogan, with his deadpan delivery, and Rob Brydon, his sidekick, come out as the winners. Their timing is impeccable and their chemistry is real. Some of the other people in the cast include Shirley Henderson, Stephen Fry, Kelly MacDonald, Ian Hart, Jeremy Northam, Naomie Harris, Gillian Anderson and some other talented English actors, too many to mention all.
The excellent musical score by Michael Nyman enhances all what we are watching. Marcel Zyskind's cinematography gives the right look to the film. Ultimately, all credit for making the film the fun it is goes to Michael Winterbottom.
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