Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story (image 1)

Screened as part of NZIFF 2006

Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story 2005

Directed by Michael Winterbottom

Steve Coogan stars in Michael Winterbottom’s po-mo adaptation of Sterne’s bawdy, untamable, 18th-century novel. “The first great, mind-tickling treat of the new movie year” — Entertainment Weekly

UK In English
94 minutes

Screenplay

Martin Hardy. Based on the novel by Laurence Sterne

Photography

Marcel Zyskind

Editor

Peter Christelis

Music

Michael Nyman
,
Erik Nordgren
,
Nino Rota

With

Steve Coogan
,
Rob Brydon
,
Keeley Hawes
,
Shirley Henderson
,
Dylan Moran
,
David Walliams
,
Jeremy Northam
,
Naomie Harris
,
Kelly Macdonald
,
Elizabeth Berrington
,
Mark Williams
,
James Fleet
,
Ian Hart
,
Kieran O'Brien
,
Stephen Fry
,
Gillian Anderson
,
Anthony H. Wilson

Elsewhere

“Laurence Sterne’s bawdy, untamable, altogether astonishing 18th-century novel The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman stands proud on the shelf of great books famous for being owned wisely but not read too much. Posited as the fictional autobiography of an eccentric English gent, the book is a cavalcade of digressions, narrative fractures, and formal messing-about that predates (and outdazzles) postmodern literary gamesmanship by centuries and miles. It is, safe to say, unfilmable. And yet here it is, filmed to perfection by Michael Winterbottom as Tristram Shandy: A Cock & Bull Story – the first great, mind-tickling treat of the new movie year… 

“That’s not all! In a fit of irresistible playfulness, the filmmaker operates at a level of addictive challenge known to Sudoku puzzle players as ‘diabolical’. Working off a wonderfully sparkling screenplay, Winterbottom creates a narrative not only about the loquacious Tristram Shandy (Steve Coogan), who tells the story of his own birth and odd family, but also about the making of the very movie we are watching… [in which Coogan also gets to send himself up as] Steve Coogan, a certified comic genius and celebrity, etc. The fictional star is as vain, shallow, pompous, and distractable a showbiz fellow off camera as his Tristram is in waistcoat and wig… 

“The movie-within-a-movie conceit isn’t new, and neither is the parodic notion of the movie-about-the-business-of-making-movies. But rarely has such meta-ness been put to such deep and insightful literary use, or handled with such heart. A knowing chronicle of cock and bull in all its forms and charms, the movie swings with inventive pleasures.” — Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly