I dig Francisco Goya’s artwork and wouldn’t mind a movie about his life. Unfortunately, this is not that story. I don’t know what story Forman wanted to tell, which is the film’s biggest problem. It attempts to cover the Spanish inquisition, bits and pieces of Goya’s life and artwork, the politics of revolution, a historical debate on religion vs. secularism and a typical costume drama. There are a couple intense scenes that are effective, but the whole thing amounts to a waste of time for the talented people involved.
Even a solid cast can’t do anything to salvage this. Stellan Skarsgård’s Goya is relegated to a bystander for most of the movie. Javier Bardem does fine, but I had a hard time getting past his bizarre accent. Natalie Portman’s performance ranges from convincing to laughably bad, although her character goes through quite a physical transformation. (Her much-hyped nude scene is probably a body double and takes place during a torture scene to boot.) And I don’t know why, but it’s hilarious seeing Randy Quaid in a period piece, let alone playing the King of Spain.
Extra Tidbit: Director Milos Forman and producer Saul Zaentz both won Oscars for their previous collaborations, ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST and AMADEUS. Two out of three isn’t a bad record.