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

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  20 January 2006 (UK)
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 10,982 users   Metascore: 80/100
Reviews: 122 user | 122 critic | 35 from

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


(novel), (screenplay) (as Martin Hardy)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Elizabeth / Keeley Hawes
Raymond Waring ...
Conal Murphy ...
Joe Williams ...
London Doctor
Dr. Slop


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Because everyone loves an accurate period piece. See more »


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

20 January 2006 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story  »

Box Office


£2,800,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£332,582 (UK) (20 January 2006)


$1,247,453 (USA) (28 April 2006)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The film also features several pieces of music used by Stanley Kubrick in similar situations in Barry Lyndon (namely the Sarabande by Georg Fridrich Händel and traditional British Grenadiers), a film set in about the same location and period. See more »


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Rob Brydon: Just close your eyes and feel it.
Steve Coogan: No. It's your fucking teeth. Christ!
Rob Brydon: What is the matter with you? You've got such a thing about, whenever there's a hint of something gay, you immediately...
Steve Coogan: What? This has nothing to do with "gay". I'm very cautious.
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See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits have (intentional) spacing issues, and mismatched fonts. See more »


References I'm Alan Partridge (1997) See more »


Written by Nino Rota
(P) & © C.A.M Srl
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User Reviews

Unfilmable book according to Michael Winterbottom
6 February 2006 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

Tristram Shandy, the complex novel, by Laurence Sterne, comes to the screen thanks to the adaptation and direction of Micahel Winterbottom, a man that likes to take risks. The idea of mixing the goings on of a film being made based on the novel, and the people behind the project presents some original ideas about what goes on behind the scenes.

This film within a film, showcases the talents of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, two funny English comedians that haven't been seen much on this side of the Atlantic, but who are quite well known in the U.K.

The Sterne novel is just a pretext for making sense of the book, which presents tremendous challenge to the movie makers. On the one level we see the story of the birth of the hero of the novel, and on the other, we watch a somewhat conceited actor going through the process of the filming as he and the company socialize in a posh hotel.

The basic premise of the film presents a problem with American audiences drawn to the film by the good notices it received from the local critics. Judging the reaction of the audience the other day at the Angelika, one wonders if the film was understood as almost no laughter could be heard in response to some of the clever and funny things happening on the screen. In fact, it seems baffling to this viewer the response of what appeared to be an audience of mostly cool NYU students.

What Mr. Winterbottom gets is excellent acting from most of this multi talented cast. Steve Coogan, with his deadpan delivery, and Rob Brydon, his sidekick, come out as the winners. Their timing is impeccable and their chemistry is real. Some of the other people in the cast include Shirley Henderson, Stephen Fry, Kelly MacDonald, Ian Hart, Jeremy Northam, Naomie Harris, Gillian Anderson and some other talented English actors, too many to mention all.

The excellent musical score by Michael Nyman enhances all what we are watching. Marcel Zyskind's cinematography gives the right look to the film. Ultimately, all credit for making the film the fun it is goes to Michael Winterbottom.

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