Goya's Ghosts | Chicago Reader

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Since cleaning up at the Oscars with Amadeus, Milos Forman has favored biopics (Man on the Moon, The People vs. Larry Flynt), and this is one of his more fanciful, spinning a historical melodrama around the great Spanish painter Francisco Goya. Stellan Skarsgard cuts a rather drab figure as Goya, whose dark imaginings are mostly ignored to accommodate a fictional tale about a priest of the Inquisition (Javier Bardem) and the merchant's daughter he wants to save/fondle (Natalie Portman). The turning point, Napoleon's invasion of Spain, sets in motion a number of fine historical ironies. But in the second half, set 15 years later, Forman pushes Portman into a gimmicky dual role as both the priest's victim, now crazed and and decrepit from years in prison, and her daughter, a teenage prostitute. R, 114 min.

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