Reviewer's Rating 5 out of 5   User Rating 3 out of 5
A Cock And Bull Story (2006)
15Contains strong language and moderate sex

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon make for an irresistible double-act in Michael Winterbottom's unconventional and hugely successful adaptation of Laurence Stern's 'unfilmable' 18th century novel Tristram Shandy. More an irreverent take on the world of filmmaking than a period drama, this is one of the funniest British movies in years. Kudos to Coogan for making himself the butt of so many jokes, as his past as Alan Partridge and present as tabloid fodder are mercilessly skewered in the name of comedy.

The novel The Life And Opinions Of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman features more rambling than a holiday in the Lake District. A sprawling, gimmicky book considered ahead of its time, it's adapted for the screen as a film within a film which chronicles the making of the film (got that?). The actual novel gets pretty short shrift - Tristram (Coogan) attempts to tell the story of his life but is constantly interrupted and distracted by the people around him (including his father Walter - also played by Coogan - and his war-wounded Uncle Toby - Brydon).

"SPARKLING INTERPLAY BETWEEN COOGAN AND BRYDON"

It's the fictional - and all-too-believable - on-set antics which deliver the biggest laughs. Jeremy Northam plays the film's pressurised director and Ian Hart munches his way through proceedings as the oft-ignored screenwriter. Best of all is the sparkling interplay between Coogan and Brydon, whose banter hilariously plays on actors' vanities and insecurities. The strong cast also includes Kelly Macdonald as Coogan's 'real' wife and Gillian Anderson as both herself and Widow Wadman. In a word, unmissable.

End Credits

Director: Michael Winterbottom

Writer: Martin Hardy

Stars: Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, Gillian Anderson, Jeremy Northam, Kelly Macdonald, Keeley Hawes

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Length: 94 minutes

Cinema: 20 January 2006

Country: UK

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