Movie News

Milos Forman bares all of Natalie Portman in her best performance in GOYA'S GHOST?!?!?!

Published at: May 30, 2006, 4:32 a.m. CST

Hey folks, Harry here... and officially... I'm dying to see this film, and not for Portman's nudity... well, not entirely. No, this film has a great deal of interest for me. Amongst my favorite painters of all time is Goya. My time in Spain and at it's Prado left me with hours staring at his paintings. Looking at pictures of them, as with all paintings, do the work little to no justice. The glazes catching the light, the pale ambers and browns of his work. The horror of something like his SATURN devouring his children. His paintings are light blazing out of a murky darkness... and in person they are so emotional. I highly recommend the trip to Madrid and the Prado there to see his work. So, beyond the subject matter of Goya, the film deals with the Inquisition and its hypocrisy... and is in the hands of one of our master filmmakers... Milos Forman! Now, take note, this film is not the finished print and was being screened at Cannes... outside of competition for distributors to consider acquiring. From the sound of it, it sounds magnificent. Sure, Andrew isn't totally in love with it, but by the time this work is finished... I'm betting it will be something absolutely remarkable. It's a good year for Goya lovers. This... and then Guillermo Del Toro's PAN'S LABYRINTH is heavily inspired by the paintings of Goya. Including his SATURN painting and THE GREAT HE-GOAT painting. Beware of spoilers, here you go...

Hello Harry, Moriarty, and the rest of AICN,

Andrew-Wan Kenobi here. It's been a while since I handed in a review for you folks. I wish it could be one for Pirates of the Caribbean, Cars, or even Miami Vice. Instead it's for a film that most people will never, ever see. Hell! I'll be lucky if the talkback for this one gets more than 30 entries. Well, here goes nothing.

Back in April, I attended the first ever test screening of the new Milos Forman film, Goya's Ghosts. The film stars Stellan Skarsgard, Javier Bardem, and Natalie Portman.

Before the screening, we were given the usual spiel of how the film wasn't finished, music is temp, effects shots weren't complete... yeah, yeah, yeah. What made this announcement more interesting than usual, is that it came from Saul Zaentz, who also produced 'Amadeus' and 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest'.

Spain. 1792. The high council of the Catholic Church is looking over etchings that depict prostitution, child sexual abuse, witchcraft, and satiric critiques of the clergy. It's suggested that the artist be brought up on charges and arrested. However, Brother Lorenzo (Javier Bardem) defends the artist by saying that he is merely drawing what is happening around him and that he cannot be held accountable. He suggests that Spain is out of control, that the Spanish Inquisition be reinstated, and that he lead the fight. He tells his charges to look out for Jews, witches, and even worse... Protestants.

Next, we meet Francisco Goya (Stellan Skarsgard), who is painting Ines (played by Natalie Portman). There isn't much to the scene. It's just Portman looking radiant and setting up the fact that Goya is a master artist. Later, we watch as Goya paints and interacts with King Charles IV (played with glee by the Randy Quaid) and his wife Maria Louisa.

We follow Ines to a tavern, who is dining with friends. When a pig is served, she doesn't partake in the tasty dish that is the other white meat. Members of the Inquisition see this, assume that something is amiss, and have her arrested.

At her questioning, she swears that she is a good Christian and that she doesn't eat pork because she doesn't like the taste AND NOT because she practices Judaism. She is asked to prove this and is put to 'The Question'.

Now, 'The Question' isn't some bullshit interrogation involving comfy chairs and being poked with soft cushions. This is some major torture. Her hands are tied behind her back and then she is lifted off the ground... BY HER WRISTS! If you think that this sounds painful, well, you should see it. One more thing about this scene... NATALIE PORTMAN'S NAKED! (Well, at least the unfinished special effect of Natalie is.) It's not necessarily the ideal place to see her nude, but, you take what you can get, right guys?

In case you were wondering, Miss Portman doesn't have to deal with a Spanish accent. Neither does Skarsgard (who sounds just like Liam Nesson). In fact, no one seems to have a Spanish accent... with the exception of Javier Bardem. His accent is so thick in that makes him sound like a foreigner compared to everyone else in the film. At first, it's a little distracting. But in the end, it's not as distracting as watching Natalie in 'V For Vendetta' trying to speak with a realistic British accent.

So, when Ines doesn't return home after her arrest, Ines' father (who is a rich and successful merchant, named Thomas) pleads with Goya to use his connections with the church and get Ines released. Goya arranges to have Brother Lorenzo visit her in the joint. Upon his visit, Ines is still naked, wearing only shackles on her ankles. It turns out that Ines succumbed to the torture and 'confessed' to being a Jew. She pleads with Lorenzo, begging him to let her go and let her see her family. He says that she will need to go on trial and asks that she pray with him. During which time, he rapes her.

So, Thomas invites Goya and Lorenzo to dinner with his family (his wife and four sons), to find out his daughter's fate... and to attempt to bribe the church in exchange for his daughter's release.

During dinner, Lorenzo tells Thomas, Ines' mother and four brothers, that she is in good spirits and that she was 'put to the question'. Goya argues torture doesn't work and that under the right amount of pain, he would admit to anything. Brother Lorenzo argues that if one is innocent the fear of God will help you overcome your fear of pain. Thomas agrees with Goya and decides prove his point by putting 'The Question' to Lorenzo. Not too surprisingly, he succumbs to the pain and signs a crazy confession that the church takes very serious and Lorenzo is labeled as a fugitive.

16 years go by and King Charles' throne has been abdicated. Spain is now under the rule of Napoleon and the French. Goya is deaf. We learn all this because... get ready for this... Goya breaks through the forth wall and speaks directly toward to the camera!

I mean, come on. This isn't Moonlighting for cryin' out loud. Keep in mind this is the only narration in the film. If Goya was telling a story to someone, you could probably get away with it. In its current state, the scene doesn't work. I can deal with the lack of accents and a slow pace, but this scene has to be re-tooled.

In the meantime, we find that Father Lorenzo has joined the French Revolution, is now Napoleon's chief prosecutor. In an ironic twist, he has put his former colleagues from the church on trial. The prisoners of the Inquisition have now all been released, including Ines.

Unfortunately, 16 years shackled to a post have not been good to her. Her teeth are cracked and yellow. Her skin diseased and laden with boils and blisters. Her gorgeous hair has been reduced to a balding, mangy mess. When she speaks, her jaw moves as if it was injured and not properly heeled. Her transformation from a sweet, fun loving girl to a disheveled shadow of herself is wrenching.

She visits Goya and tells him of her time in the clink. She also tells him of a pregnancy... and I'm sure you can guess who she claims the father is.

The film turns into a search for Ines' daughter (who may or may not exist), Lorenzo's quest to hide the daughter (who may or may not exist), and Goya's obsession to help his muse and attempt to uncover the truth.

As you can probably tell, this isn't really a film about Goya. While he's is the central character, Goya's story takes a backseat to the maniacal Brother Lorenzo and the tormented Ines.

The movie is short on character development. We find out very little about Ines before her arrest (she's a pretty girl who poses for pictures and hates pork). We learn about Goya more from his paintings and sketches than from Skarsgard's performance (at least initially). Bardem's Father Lorenzo is the exception. From the moment we're introduced to him, we see him as a man who craves power and will do anything to attain it. His story is the most interesting and engaging.

As the actors go, Skarsgard and Bardem are as reliable as ever. They do their best to bring life and energy to roles that aren't very complex. However, it's Natalie Portman that steals the movie. Her portrayal of Ines is heartbreaking. At first glance she looks to be the token starlet who was cast specifically to bring in a younger demographic to the box office. Instead, we are graced with an emotional performance that is sure to be recognized this awards season.

As I stated before, the music was temp and not very memorable. I didn't recognize it from anywhere else. The film does not currently have a distributor (Saul Zaentz was in Cannes looking for a buyer). The winning history of past Zaentz/Forman efforts may be hard to pass up, but Goya's Ghosts will be a hard sell for audiences. It's not a picture that's going to burn up the box office.

Prediction? I see it making around $20-30 million. But only if it gets nominated during awards season. And it just may be, as it features Natalie Portman's best acting in years.

Readers Talkback

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  • May 30, 2006, 4:35 a.m. CST


    by photoboy

    How many bets this nudity is just like Closer and ends up on the cutting room floor?

  • May 30, 2006, 4:46 a.m. CST


    by stalfos

    I will fight the movie itself to get naked natalie on screen.

  • May 30, 2006, 5:07 a.m. CST

    features Natalie Portman's best naked scenes ever

    by Cedar_Room

    is the only line you need to add to the poster for what sounds like an otherwise boring as fuck film.

  • May 30, 2006, 5:09 a.m. CST

    I'll be there, I wanna see Natalie's breasts on...

    by Dr_Zoidberg

    the big screen. In Closer, one of her HUGE nipples popped out in the scene with Clive Owen in the strip club, the shot after she shows Owen her pussy, you can see it quite clearly. And I'm fed up jerking off to those ancient beach pictures. Natalie has a great ass, I'd love to lick it. And that tasty minge. Keira Knightley is much better at nudity, she is set to bare all for Atonement (and after all that ass-double crap in the lapdance scene in Domino, you can still see her ass in the desert sex scene AND at the pool party). As for Goya's Ghost I'll be there as it sounds quite good, if a little too political sounding. But if Natalie is NAKED and show TITS PUSSY OR ASS I'm there... many times over. Just don't sit in front of me at the cinema. Zoidberg loves you!!!!!!!!!!

  • May 30, 2006, 5:15 a.m. CST

    Wailing Wall kiss?

    by Bass Ackwards

    I remember reading forever ago about people getting upset about Portman filming a kissing scene in front of the Wailing Wall, whatever happened to whatever movie that was being filmed for?

  • May 30, 2006, 6:31 a.m. CST

    hehehe i was an extra in this movie

    by CuervoJones

    but no, i didn

  • May 30, 2006, 6:33 a.m. CST

    Lack of accents???

    by Nice Marmot

    How bout lack of the Spanish language altogether??? And Randy Quaid as Charles IV, geez, hope he doesn't announce that the "Shitter's Full!!!"

  • May 30, 2006, 6:33 a.m. CST

    Lack of accents???

    by Nice Marmot

    How bout lack of the Spanish language altogether??? And Randy Quaid as Charles IV, geez, hope he doesn't announce that the "Shitter's Full!!!"

  • May 30, 2006, 6:44 a.m. CST

    i've already seen her nude

    by shalashaska

    think about it, she's not going to bare all, it's just going to be her tits. and if any of you are as perverted as i am, you have seen those things a long time ago. and for those who havent:

  • May 30, 2006, 6:47 a.m. CST

    pop used to play cards with milos

    by reckni

    and all his movies most of his movies especially special, didn't know another masterwork was on the horizon, with hope of bucked-Portman?

  • May 30, 2006, 6:55 a.m. CST

    the thought of this might actually sober me up

    by ChickenGeorgeVII

    DID SOMEBODY SAY WE ARE GONNA SEE SOME MAUMFLAUMBAS?!?!?!?!? ARE WE GONNA GIT US SOME BIG OL TITTIES FOR OUR VIEWING PLEASURE?!?!?!?!? ARE WE GONNA SEE SOME MOUNDS OF FLESH WAVING ABOUT BEFORE OUR VERY EYES TO GET OUR BLOOD BLOILIN AND OUR WILLIES TO STAND AT ATTENTION????...well....not so much since natalie ain't packin....but I'll take just about anything these days.....And thus, I'll be getting extra napkins at the consession stand! - - - George, The 7th Chicken!!!!

  • May 30, 2006, 8:14 a.m. CST

    while you are at the prado

    by dr.bulber

    check out las meninas.

  • May 30, 2006, 8:32 a.m. CST

    Yeah Portman and accents...

    by brycemonkey

    I do like the characters to all have the same accent (unless they play a foreigner), otherwise it can be very distracting. See Alexander for a movie I couldn't believe (for various reasons) but with half of them talking in broad Irish accents, his da' American, his ma' WTF... Anyway there you go. I'll try and check it out and not just for a naked Portman. I am far too sick and twisted to get my jollies from ordinary nakedness (which IMO is 'normal'). That isn't sexy. Get a horse to fuck her, now that's more like it! Although with that BS in Closer I don't think she'd go for it...

  • May 30, 2006, 8:38 a.m. CST

    Ah, Marmot....

    by savage_henry

    Got me with the "shitter's full" comment. I let out a muffled galumph in a meeting I'm sitting in right now. Well done.

  • May 30, 2006, 8:38 a.m. CST

    "The high council of the Catholic Church....

    by I Dunno looking over etchings that depict prostitution, child sexual abuse"...Are they jerking off?

  • May 30, 2006, 8:51 a.m. CST

    No, the ordinary clergy jerk it...

    by brycemonkey

    If you are in the High Council you get at least 2 altar boys to give you a happy finish! :-O

  • May 30, 2006, 8:53 a.m. CST

    What would really make this worthwhile

    by Terry_1978

    Is if she did that SNL rap whilst being nude. Now that would sell some tickets.

  • May 30, 2006, 9:24 a.m. CST

    much as i'd like to see natalie naked

    by newc0253

    i gotta say i'd prefer something where she isn't also tortured and disfigured in the same movie. that sounds like a real downer.

  • May 30, 2006, 9:35 a.m. CST

    "Played with glee by The Randy Quaid..."

    by Boxcutter

    Great, just great. That phrase made my morning. He should try and have all his credits phrased thus. And there's probably a new career waiting for him, playing various loopy European monarchs. "Who do we have for Ludwig, Barry?" "He will be played with glee by no less than The Randy Quaid..." Dead solid perfect.

  • May 30, 2006, 9:56 a.m. CST

    God Harry ,here, here's shots of Portman Topless

    by JUSTICE41

  • May 30, 2006, 10:06 a.m. CST

    Bullshit Redux

    by Jimmie Dimmick

    1.) Who says this isn't a body double? & 2.)Doc. Z, since you're salivating for a nekkid torture scene, do you have M.Belucci's rape looped from "Irreversible"? ...Freak.

  • May 30, 2006, 10:11 a.m. CST

    Who cares?

    by performingmonkey

    If all you're seeing this for is to see her tits for like a second then that's fucking ridiculous. If it was an extra long and extra gratuitous sex scene then I might be tempted because she is pretty hot (not like she used to be though...), but come on, I've yet to see her give a good performance.

  • May 30, 2006, 10:14 a.m. CST


    by shutterghost

    Milos back to form is all I need to hear

  • May 30, 2006, 10:52 a.m. CST

    Naked unfinished special effect?

    by minderbinder

    What the hell? I don't like the sound of that, sounds like they're going to do some sort of goofy digital body double or something. I doubt she shows anything.

  • May 30, 2006, 11:02 a.m. CST


    by NeotheLessar

    Portman naked = instant $10 mil box office.

  • May 30, 2006, 11:11 a.m. CST

    Randy Quaid? Was Jim Belushi too busy?

    by durhay

    I'm surprised Cary Ewles isn't in this.

  • May 30, 2006, 11:15 a.m. CST

    That sounds fucking awesome!

    by Veraxus

    Wow, aside from speaking directly to the audience (a big no no), this sounds like my kind of movie.

  • May 30, 2006, 11:16 a.m. CST

    As beautiful as Natalie is...

    by Osmosis Jones

    ...why would anyone want to see her naked? She has the body of a ten-year-old boy! *Gorgeous* face, but stacked, she ain't...

  • May 30, 2006, 11:26 a.m. CST


    by topaz4206

    Breasts do not have to be huge to be beautiful. Natalie's look perfect on her petite frame. I'm so there.

  • May 30, 2006, 11:27 a.m. CST

    Did someone say 'Naked Natalie Portman?'

    by Orionsangels

    My three favorite words combined. That's all I need to know. I'm there!

  • May 30, 2006, 11:57 a.m. CST

    This film has been done before: "The Naked Maja"

    by Psalmolive Hollywood is completely derivative, but let's continue to call this film revolutionary, and Natalie Portman will win an Oscar and it will be the greatest piece of cinema of all time projected or committed to celluloid at 24 frames per second.

  • May 30, 2006, 12:29 p.m. CST


    by TheBaxter

    did i get it?

  • May 30, 2006, 1:12 p.m. CST

    does NO ONE care that Jean-Claude Carriere co-wrote it?

    by beamish13

    Do THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGIOUSIE, THE TIN DRUM, or THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING mean something to anybody here? Not to mention that he co-wrote Forman's magnificent first American film, TAKING OFF...

  • May 30, 2006, 1:28 p.m. CST

    Snakes on a

    by HGHGHG


  • May 30, 2006, 1:34 p.m. CST

    The whole thing seems promising

    by chien_sale

  • May 30, 2006, 1:44 p.m. CST

    played with glee by the Randy Quaid

    by Alonzo Mosely

    Yeah boxcutter beat me too it, but that is my favorite new AICN line in a while, could become a talkback favorite...

  • May 30, 2006, 1:44 p.m. CST

    My cock's gone big!!!

    by fitzcarraldo2

    I'm going to knock one out RIGHT NOW.

  • May 30, 2006, 2:37 p.m. CST

    Natalie Portman Naked AND in Chains?

    by heywood jablomie

    I'm afraid to see this movie. I despise soiling myself in public.

  • May 30, 2006, 3:07 p.m. CST

    Natalie Portman is a girl you want to date...

    by Kirk's Toupee

    Porn Stars are girls you want to fuck. I'd rather see a porn star naked. And watch Portman act.

  • May 30, 2006, 3:12 p.m. CST

    Milos Forman

    by Stollentroll

    is terrific. I'm gonna see it right away.

  • May 30, 2006, 3:23 p.m. CST

    Ellen Page Is The New Natalie Portman

    by ZombieSolutions

    i'll always love Natalie, but Ellen Page just came out of nowhere and seized the Pixie Princess celebrity crown -- not only is she a fantastic actress, she's quite simply beautiful. like i said, I'll always love Natalie, but Ellen is the new "it-girl."

  • May 30, 2006, 3:52 p.m. CST

    GreatOne2... "debasing our culture"

    by brycemonkey

    Don't know about that one dude. Pornography has been around as long as art. Prostitutes are members of the 'oldest profession'. It seems like you are out of touch with the culture you live in... If women want to be whores then let them. Certainly that's what Halle Berry became when she negotiated more money to show the puppies. And to be fair to her and the producers/director, they were the highlight of Swordfish. Not all people /movies opperate like that though, which is a good thing. It sounds like the use of nudity here isn't gratuitous. Not that many TBers are complaining! Peace.

  • May 30, 2006, 4:22 p.m. CST

    hell, id wanna see this sans nudity!

    by s0nicdeathmonkey

    and with it...i will go out of my way to. portman, knightly and johansen are the only 3 in hollywood i really wish to see nude. ok, and bridget bardot and asia argento.

  • May 30, 2006, 4:43 p.m. CST

    sex isnt bad. and given the time period...

    by s0nicdeathmonkey

    the nudity could be accurate. if it is not however, then i say, go ahead an cut it out. but as for nude shots being prostitution...all acting is prostitution.

  • May 30, 2006, 4:45 p.m. CST

    Still not sure I agree with you GreatOne2...

    by brycemonkey

    Prostitution used to be far more accepted than it is today. Try and mention to your boss how you visited a bordello and see what their reaction is... It has become more accepted than it used to be (ditto for pornography too). I think people are clued in enough to be able to distinguish between high art; movies; and porn. Given this, only "high-profile stars" with career suicide would go too near the blurred edge. Don't you ever think that nudity in 'Hollywood' movies is justified?

  • May 30, 2006, 4:46 p.m. CST

    also, what is wrong with prostitution?

    by s0nicdeathmonkey

    honestly? why is it even illegal? distasteful true. but wrong? only in a sexist culture. what is the difference, afterall, between a sports star and a prostitute? gender, generally.

  • May 30, 2006, 4:50 p.m. CST

    Sorry, bitch

    by Itchy

    You teased me with all the rumoured nudity in Closer. Not falling for it again. Next time I waste my time sitting through one of Portman's "artistic" (ie, boring as fuck) movies will be if she decide to star in Cum Fart Cocktails 16.

  • May 30, 2006, 5:04 p.m. CST

    seriously, I'm callin BS

    by thebearovingian

    My apologies, but WTF-ever!!! "Goya is one of my favorite artists of all time!! Finally they make a movie about Goya!" BULLFRICKINLONEY!! Every review begins with, "Since I was a child, I was in awe of Ronald McDonald and how as a scary lookin clown, everyone seemed to not be afraid. It's the pure genius of his eyemakeup, just the right amount of shadowing and gentle curves...and those big goofy shoes. I had always hoped that Kubrick (RIP),Coppola, Scorcese, or Malick would bring him to life on the silver screen." Gag me with a ladle!! It's too convenient that there's some BS serendipitous connection to every movie. No wonder why people on here have a bad rep.

  • May 30, 2006, 7:33 p.m. CST

    Gotta be better than Girl with a Pearl Earring.

    by Negatif1

    Especially since it isn't based on a fictional romance novel. Goya is one of my favourite painters, and making his bio a real-life drama of what he fought against in his paintings should be a dramatic lock. Also, Skarsgard could portray the older Goya fairly well.

  • May 31, 2006, 1:02 a.m. CST


    by BabatuFerguson

    Just because you don't know Goya, don't assume the rest of us are ignorant-ass mofos.

  • May 31, 2006, 11:50 a.m. CST


    by ikkyu

    re. Ms Portman: "...not as distracting as watching Natalie in 'V For Vendetta' trying to speak with a realistic British accent." i'm a Brit, and i can say with some authority being, in common with many of my compatriots, hyper-sensitive to bad Brit accents: her accent in V wasn't bad at all. and to write within the one review the two phrases: "for a film that most people will never, ever see. Hell! I'll be lucky if the talkback for this one gets more than 30 entries." and "One more thing about this scene... NATALIE PORTMAN'S NAKED!" is pure disingenuous bullshit of the first order.

  • May 31, 2006, 3:17 p.m. CST

    I know Goya.....

    by thebearovingian

    he makes fantastic beans. All kinds of beans!! And weird juices! My previous comments, however, had nothing to do with Goya. Laus Deo

  • June 1, 2006, 6:46 a.m. CST

    Milas film, Portman nekkid, count me in!!

    by DigitalDong

    I love Milas's work, and Portman is good when casted right. Plus this movie has a Quills feeling to it and I liked that movie cause it was fucked up, this sounds fucked up too, bring it on.

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