This is a film that tries too hard at "grandeur" and ends up nothing more than pompous dreck. El Greco's life and work are worthy of much better than this lifeless, corny exploration. The film boasts some of the most laughable, cringe-worthy dialog to grace the big screen -- a pretty devastating deficiency in what is supposed to be a "character film". In fact, I had serious trouble finding lines that were not shamelessly cribbed from dozens of period pieces which preceded this. I was half-expecting someone in the audience to break out with "nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition", as this material screams for the Monty Python treatment. Someone should tell the makers of "El Greco" that it takes more than costumes and passable set-pieces to create a period film ; most importantly, it takes believable dialog and characters. The protagonists in El Greco talk like persons living in post-Enlightenment Europe (and very often, like outright contemporaries of ours). I am sorry, but no Renaissance painter (much less El Greco) would try to defend his art in front of the Inquisition by stating that "all art is blasphemy anyways". A good indication of the quality of the film is the manner in which Theotokopoulos is presented as painting ; like most childish depictions, he doesn't paint, so much as "attack" the canvas, presumably because all great painters fence with their canvases (rolls eyes). Incidentally, rolling your eyes is something that you will be doing quite often, should you choose to suffer through the countless clichés in the film. Ranging from the "talented person in a foreign land", to the two dimensional "villain", and the "love for the villain's daughter", this film manages to take a historical personality and turn him into a typical Hollywood-derivative cliché. Quite the accomplishment. The narration, too, is particularly tiresome and trite ; I usually love movies with narration, and yet, with this one, it seemed like they managed to hit all the wrong, hackneyed notes from start to finish. And all of this without taking the ridiculous, deus ex machina excuse for a conclusion into account.
Widely promoted as "the most important Greek production ever" (of which there seems to be a new one every year), El Greco seems bound to achieve considerable commercial success in the Greek market. But it is the kind of movie most people will claim to like, and no one will bother to see twice. Which, after all, is the true indicator of a film's appeal. We weren't expecting loud explosions and car chases on a production about El Greco ; but a reasonable, intelligent plot and dialog that would not make you squirm in your seat in embarrassment would have been nice.
Not recommended. For those that missed it, worry not. You'll have another "greatest Greek production ever" foisted on you by the Greek television channel-sponsors to look forward to next year.
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