Goya's Ghosts (15)

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The Independent Culture

Any film that sets its vision of Spain in the era of Inquisition and Napoleon against Goya's needs to have something pretty special to offer; this one doesn't. It begins with a portrait of Roman Catholic intolerance and clerical tyranny that would gladden the heart of the most fanatical Protestant bigot, before turning it round and showing the horrors of French post-revolutionary rationalism. In neither part does Forman achieve anything close to the tension and madness that history, and the melodramatic story-line, demands. It doesn't help that the drama rests on Natalie Portman, whose turn as a maiden broken in body and mind by the Inquisition's tortures is a little embarrassing.