Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story

HE’S ABOUT TO PLAY THE ROLE OF HIS LIFE.

Director Michael Winterbottom has a knack for making fake documentaries in the style of Christopher Guest, but this one has a different twist – stars Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon play themselves (or rather arrogant versions of the same) competing for the spotlight while making a period film based on the classic Laurence Sterne novel. A very amusing look behind the scenes of a movie production where the sharpest knife in the drawer is the lowest paid, least influential assistant. The ingenious thing about this film is of course that the production’s “real” events and characterizations perfectly mirror that of the novel; it helps if you’ve read it.

2006-Britain. 91 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Andrew Eaton. Directed by Michael Winterbottom. Screenplay: Martin Hardy. Novel: Laurence Sterne (“The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy”). Cast: Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, Jeremy Northam (Mark), Raymond Waring, Dylan Moran, Keeley Hawes… Stephen Fry, Gillian Anderson. Cameo: Tony Wilson.

Trivia: The pseudonym “Martin Hardy” is actually Frank Cottrell Boyce.

Last word: “I’ll tell you what was hard was because it was a film within a film, you’ve got like a real film crew and a fake film crew. The film crew that’s being filmed – so it looks like you’re watching a film crew making a movie. So one of the film crew’s is fake – there’s no film in the camera because that camera is being filmed by a real camera. That was kind of odd because sometimes I’d think, ‘Where’s the camera? Oh, it’s over there.’ And I’d think, ‘No, that’s not a real camera, that’s a fake camera. Where’s the real camera?’ That was kind of confusing. There were two film crews, a dummy film crew and a real one – so that was pretty confusing.” (Coogan, About.com)

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