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Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story (2005)
"A Cock and Bull Story" (original title)

 -  Comedy | Drama  -  20 January 2006 (UK)
6.8
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 10,280 users   Metascore: 80/100
Reviews: 120 user | 123 critic | 35 from Metacritic.com

Director Michael Winterbottom (Northam) attempts to shoot the adaptation of Laurence Sterne's essentially unfilmable novel, "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman."

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(novel), (screenplay)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Elizabeth / Keeley Hawes
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Susannah
Raymond Waring ...
Trim
Conal Murphy ...
Joe Williams ...
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Obadiah
Mark Tandy ...
London Doctor
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Midwife
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Dr. Slop
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Surgeon
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Parson
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Mark
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Ed
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Storyline

Two actors, as their make up is applied, talk about the size of their parts. Then into the film: Laurence Sterne's unfilmable novel, Tristram Shandy, a fictive autobiography wherein the narrator, interrupted constantly, takes the entire story to be born. The film tracks between "Shandy" and behind the scenes. Size matters: parts, egos, shoes, noses. The lead's girlfriend, with their infant son, is up from London for the night, wanting sex; interruptions are constant. Scenes are shot, re-shot, and discarded. The purpose of the project is elusive. Fathers and sons; men and women; cocks and bulls. Life is amorphous, too full and too rich to be captured in one narrative. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

He's About To Play The Role Of His Life. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and sexual content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

20 January 2006 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story  »

Box Office

Budget:

£2,800,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$60,886 (USA) (27 January 2006)

Gross:

$1,247,453 (USA) (28 April 2006)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Stephen Rodrick was on set to interview Michael Winterbottom for the New York Times magazine (published on 3 July 2005) when he was roped in to appear in the film. See more »

Quotes

Steve Coogan: This is a postmodern novel before there was any modernism to be post about.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Throughout the closing credits, Rob and Steve talk about how they use techniques of various other actors. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Friday Night with Jonathan Ross: Episode #9.15 (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

The Interview
Written & Performed by Christopher Barnett
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User Reviews

 
Cocky and bullish
12 January 2006 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

How do you film an unfilmable book? Well, you can either make it up as you go along, as David Cronenberg did with Naked Lunch, or you take this approach and make a film about a film crew making a film of an unfilmable book. The tricky tome in question here is The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentlemen - a bawdy work of wit and wonderment penned in 1760 by clergyman Laurence Sterne.

Steve Coogan plays Tristram - even though he's not born by the end of the book - as well as Tristram's father Walter... and himself. Or rather, a semi-fictional version of himself. Rob Brydon also stars as himself and Walter's brother - Tristram's Uncle Toby. There are lots of other familiar British TV actors either playing themselves playing other characters or simply playing characters who interact with the stars of the film-within-the-film (for example, Ian Hart plays the screenwriter but doesn't play Ian Hart). And Gillian Anderson makes an appearance. Confused? Don't worry, you won't be.

As the writer and director strive to retain the spirit of Shandy compromises have to be made to allow for star egos, historical accuracy (Mark Williams is excellent as a pain-in-the-arse military consultant), and a miniscule budget. In one cracking scene, the crew watch the 'rushes' of the underwhelming battle scene ("Look at that! There are, literally, tens of people..."), leaving the director in despair and the costume designer in tears.

The seemingly complicated set-up actually makes a lot of sense, with Coogan sending up the naughty-boy persona created for him by the British press and Brydon sending up Coogan, while the film itself sends up the movie-making process. Viewers will be frequently amused but never bewildered as Michael Winterbottom pulls it all together with panache.

Anyone unfamiliar with the novel won't learn much, but it matters not. Bawdy and barmy, A Cock And Bull Story embodies Sterne's work perfectly. Coogan gamely shows his vulnerable side (or maybe that's just good acting?) and shows terrific rapport with Brydon, who steals the show with marvellously mundane banter and spot-on impersonations of Coogan-as-Alan Partridge and Roger Moore. Give that man his own movie.


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