I cannot imagine, the terrible torture that many “heretics” had to endure in the heat of the “holy purge”. I only know, that if it is half as bad as was portrayed in Goya’s Ghosts, I too would have been a devout Catholic. Francisco Goya (Stellan Skarsgård), a famous Spanish artist (1746–1828) created a whole army of beautiful artwork ranging from portraits of royalty to metal engravings of derelict prostitutes engaged in pagan worship. In fact, the first thing you see entering this movie is a table full of elite catholic clergymen passing around Goya’s reproductions debating his ties to this darkness and debating his life. An artist with such vile pictures must have some rough edges concerning his sanity, and a pocket full of bad memories and sights. This movie is not for the weak stomached, but a cleverly put together approach to a very disturbing and dark time.
If there was one thing that I left with at the end of this movie; it is a new appreciation for Natalie Portman. We are all used to her playing the role of the little princess caught in a whirlwind of badass “pretty boy” Jedi monks dancing around her with pulsating Lightsabers. It is amazing to see her step out of the box for a couple hours, and play a varied multitude of roles such as a prostitute or an estranged mother. Her acting was very convincing and has raised her own personal bar for future movies. I think she will always do well in the foreign movie market. Here in Hollydoom, most artists get caught in a “cookie cutter” machine. By this I mean, appearing on screen in a safe, marketable fashion. I hate seeing just another actress that is predictable and boring (even if she has the body of a Venus). It is nice to see that I can think of Natalie Portman as a more rounded artist and not just a body with clever dialogue. If you have no clue what I am talking about, then watch this movie, and try to imagine somebody like Jessica Simpson playing the lead role. I don’t think so.
My favorite character in the movie is Brother Lorenzo (Javier Bardem). I think the reason I liked him the best (aside from being a great actor) is that there are times where you really hate the guy, and there are times where you are completely on his side. The direction taken with this character is nothing short of brilliant. We see a man who is of the cloth, yet is not practicing the tenets of the church’s doctrines. This character raises questions relating to our time and the corruption of the modern day Catholic Church. Do not worry; I am not going there.
On a positive note, I find the use of a well-known artist an interesting choice in telling this story. An artist has the ability to create an emotion on a canvas. These emotions vary from person to person, only to be manifested by that person. Who is to say that you cannot create something beautiful from Goya’s darkest memories? Ghosts can be vile, headless abominations that possess people to jump from their rooftops, or beautiful angels who watch over us in our darkest hour.
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Weak: 1 Star Average: 2 Stars Good: 3 Stars Very Good: 4 Stars Excellent: 5 Stars