Film Screening 26th October, 2006

Poster for Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story

Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story 

8:00 PM, 26th October, 2006

  • M
  • 90 mins
  • 2005
  • Michael Winterbottom
  • Frank Cottrell Boyce
  • Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, Gillian Anderson, Jeremy Northam, Keeley Hawes

Why would anybody try to make a movie out of the 1760s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman.'? In short they wouldn't and this film shows you why. That is if you can stay with it. Coogan, a wonderfully droll comedian, plays many roles here: the rural 18th-century gentleman Tristram (who mostly narrates, since the character's not even born for much of the film), Tristram's father, and an actor named Steve Coogan, a touchy person starring in a movie being made of "Tristram Shandy" directed by Mark (Northam). That's right: this is a film about the troubles of making a film about a book about the troubles of writing a book.'The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman' should be an autobiography, but, due to the endless digressions and structural eccentricities, by the end the author has failed to progress beyond his own infancy. Filled with stories-within-stories and even visual effects - a black page following a character's death - the novel has long been considered brilliant, utterly wacky and totally unfilmable. So the film takes on this same persona. It's filled with stories within stories, it goes behind the scenes, addresses the viewer directly and works on many levels. Completely non-linear and completely hilarious, Tristram Shandy is the best of all worlds: a continual surprise from one scene to the next and anyone who comes along will certainly have an enjoyable night at the Film Group. And this is one film where reading the book first won't spoil the movie!

Steven Cain