A Cock And Bull Story (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner20/10/2005

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 94 mins

Hilarious, sharply-written, superbly directed comedy with a terrific cast and several laugh-out-loud moments.

The Background
Say what you like about Michael Winterbottom - he knows how to bounce back from disaster. His last film, 9 Songs, was easily one of the worst films of last year, but his latest, A Cock and Bull Story, is a terrific comedy.

The film is based on Laurence Sterne’s 1760 novel The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. In the novel, Tristram, the author, becomes so preoccupied with the storytelling process that he keeps getting distracted and going off on tangents, with the result that it takes almost 500 pages just to tell the story of his birth.

The Story
The film, then, takes a similar approach and gets increasingly caught up in the making of the film itself and all the off-set distractions, particularly those concerning Steve Coogan, who plays a fictionalised version of himself, as well as the narrator, Tristram, and his father, Walter Shandy.

After a day of shooting, Coogan is joined by his girlfriend (Kelly Macdonald) and infant son, which gets in the way of his flirting with the cute Fassbinder-obsessed set runner (Naomie Harris). At the same time, Coogan indulges in constant rivalry with co-star and friend Rob Brydon, who keeps doing Alan Partridge impressions to wind him up.

The Good
The film is jam-packed with gags, witty lines and visual jokes. Winterbottom has fun throwing as much post-modern inter-textual trickery as he can think of into the mix, from a black screen (echoing the black page in the novel) to flashbacks, dream sequences, jokes about other films and astute observations about life on a film set.

The Great
The cast (composed almost entirely of familiar TV faces) are simply terrific and are clearly having a huge amount of fun, although Coogan deserves special praise for sending up his own image so fearlessly.

The Conclusion
In short, A Cock And Bull Story is an extremely enjoyable comedy that delivers plenty of laughs whilst still managing to convey the essence of Sterne’s novel. Highly recommended.

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Content updated: 30/08/2014 23:30

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