Tristram Shandy

A film about “the inability of art to capture life” and “the impossibility of a story about everything,” Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story is a nonadaptation of the 18th-century novel The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. The original is a post-modern deconstruction of the very concept of a narrative, an endless series of digressions that never quite get around to telling the story of Tristram Shandy, a man whose nose is a metaphor for his groin, and whose groin is a punchline in a 300-page-long joke. The film is a film about making a film about making a film about making a film about the book. If that’s not enough layers for you, it all ends in a brutal, no-holds-barred game of dueling Al Pacino impressions. British comedy stars Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon are the contestants, and the film is essentially the story of their pissing match as they star in, or attempt to star in, a film based on the novel Tristram Shandy. Since the plot is untellable, I’ll only add that the middle third is weak, though the first and third acts are great. Or at least that’s what the film said I was supposed to say about it.

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