TRISTRAM SHANDY - A COCK AND BULL STORY

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Tristram Shandy - A Cock and Bull Story Cover Can the past inform the future? Especially if it is being conveyed by a couple of dick-head English actors, who all sound like a swarm of constipated ducks sniffing glue? Moreover, and this is the case, could it possibly be compartmentalised in this film Directed by Michael Winterbottom; and Starring: Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, Gillian Anderson, Dylan Moran, David Walliams, and Stephen Fry. It was made in 2006, and lasts for 95 minutes


Tristram Shandy - A Cock and Bull Story


THE STORY:
As noted by literary historian, Patrick Curator (Stephen Fry), the 18th century novel, 'The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy', is a very strange tale indeed.

Take Tristram's origin for example, and how his loquacious father, Walter Shandy (Steve Coogan), had some trouble conceiving his only child in the first place!

Well, for a start, Walter wife, Elizabeth (Keeley Hawes), experienced a phantom pregnancy prior to falling pregnant. Then there's Walter's regimental brother, Toby (Rob Brydon), who is a bit of a prat to say the least. And let's not even mention how the Parson (David Walliams) gave Tristram his name, or even how Dr. Slop (Dylan Moran) delivered him!

Boy-oh-boy! Thank God that this tale is only a movie, huh?

Yes. That's right. This 18th century tome is being re-made by 21st century English actor, Steve Coogan, who is having a spot of bother at the moment with his life.

No. Don't fret. This does not have anything to do with his pal, Rob Brydon. Steve does not seem to be bothered by his constant Alan Partridge impersonations. And no. It does not have anything to do with him being interviewed by Tony Wilson either. Mores the pity.

You see, Steve's problem is all to do with his own personal life, and how this film is progressing as a project.

Where his personal own life is concerned, Steve is disturbed by a rumour floating around the media relating to some of the sexual antic's he got up to whilst in America. Moreover, due to a lustful bond he is forming with his personal assistant, Jennie (Naomie Harris), Steve is starting to feel detached from his new girlfriend and child as well.

And if you think that is bad, the 'Tristram' movie must feel like a hot chestnut on Steve's nuts. Ouch! As Mark the director (Jeremy Northam) does not like the battle scenes. Plus Joe the writer (Ian Hart) feels that the tale needs more scope.

So what do they do about it, huh? Employ Rob Brydon's dream-girl, Gillian Anderson, to play his love interest, Widow Wadman? Ohh! Errr.. yes! That's most probably why what next transpires is a right tale of tales. As lives begin to merge - realities strongly splurge - actors take a fall - and at the end of the day it's all a load of cock and bull.




THE REVIEW:
'Tristram Shandy - A Cock and Bull Story' is one of those films that intrigues me on many different levels. Initially I would say that this film about the making of a film -- and how that 'behind the scenes' stuff can get in the way of production. Then I would define it as a story about historical adaptations -- and how popular culture can pervert the accuracies of the past. Plus finally I would classify it as a slice of life in filmic form -- where the actors don't seem to act, and the truth appears very fresh and raw in a much 'bastardized' fashion.

Honestly, at times I almost forgot that Rob and Steve were playing 'strange distortions' of themselves, because I could not help but cringe or wince when certain uncomfortable scenes arose. Also, I did like the way that the film broke the forth wall amidst the opening 'movie' section of this tale, plus the way it segwayed into the 'real' section of this piece about twenty minutes or so later. 


Steve and Rob in Tristram Shandy - A Cock and Bull Story


Here, check out these filmic facts for some back-story about this project: (1) 'The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy' was a 1759 novel created by Laurence Sterne, involving the memoirs of a jovial dandy. (2) Writer, Frank Cottrell Boyce, was credited in this film under the pseudonym of 'Martin Hardy', because he had an argument over this piece with its director, Michael Winterbottom. (3) Some of the extras and armed soldiers in this flick belong to the 'Sealed Knot Society', who perform historical re-enactments' related to the English Civil War.  (4) In 2010 the 'Tristram Shandy' series of books was adapted into a graphic novel by cartoonist, Martin Rowson. (5) Stephen Roderick was persuaded to be involved with this project when he went to interview Michael Winterbottom for Times magazine. (6) Since 1981, British composer, Michael Nyman, has been working on an opera based on Tristram Shandy. (7) This film features pieces of music which was used by Stanley Kubrick and Nino Rota in their movies 'Barry Lyndon' and '8 1/2' respectively. (8) This picture was filmed within a number of stately Hall's located throughout England, such as Norfolk, Northamptonshire, North Yorkshire, and Leicestershire. (9) Steve Coogan played Tony Wilson in the Tony Wilson bio-pic '24 Hour Party People' . (10) Another Michael Winterbotton film called 'The Trip'; also featured Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon playing fictionalized versions of themselves. (11) The first song that the Beatles ever recorded was hummed by Steve to his baby in this movie, 'My Bonnie'. Ian Hart played John Lennon in two films.


Tristram Shandy - A Cock and Bull Story Film


Now you as might have already gathered, I did like 'Tristram Shandy - A Cock and Bull Story' an awful lot. All the actors were great. The conceit of the film is something that I will always enjoy following. And the very British concept of amalgamating reality with un-reality is just a mind boggling and insightful concept to comprehend.

Granted, here and there, certain aspects of this film felt like they needed more exploration. For example, Steve's personal life never reached a finite conclusion within this tale. Plus I would have liked to have seen more of Rob and Gillian as well. Nonetheless, by in large this is a great-great film, and one that is a right hoot for those people who love British comedy with a dash of 'the real' for good measure. Agreed chaps?  




Stuff off then.

THE RATING: A