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A Cock And Bull Story 
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Michael Winterbottom directs this off-beat comedy about an attempt to film Laurence Sterne's 'unfilmable' 18th century novel 'The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy'. Crossing the line between the world of the film and the life of the actors trying to make it, Steve Coogan plays both himself and Tristram Shandy, while Rob Brydon plays himself and Toby. As both comedians find their working relationship off-set by professional jealousies, in the world of the film, the affable, eccentric Toby is pursued by the beautiful Widow Wadman (Gillian Anderson) as Tristram finds the story of his life increasingly difficult to tell without getting drawn into lengthy digressions.
Michael Winterbottom is no stranger to literary adaptation. Both Jude and The Claim were drawn from works by Thomas Hardy. Nor is the versatile filmmaker a stranger to the post-modern romp, like 24 Hour Party People. In that peon to Manchester's music scene, Steve Coogan was Factory honcho Tony Wilson. In Winterbottom's take on Laurence Sterne's digressive The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, the prolific helmer combines literature with lunacy and brings Coogan back as the titular character--and then some. Coogan doesn't just portray the 18th century squire, but his father Walter and insecure actor "Steve Coogan." It's a film about the making of a film, effortlessly shifting between Tristram's tumultuous birth and his frustrated adulthood--bogged down in the writing of his life story--and between fiction and (what appears to be) fact. There are no end to the worries on and off the set: Coogan worries his heels aren't high enough, Rob Brydon worries his teeth are too yellow, and Coogan's girlfriend (Kelly Macdonald) worries she isn't seeing enough of him. It may sound like Spike Jonze's Adaptation, but in spirit, it more closely resembles Tony Richardson's Tom Jones. Coogan and his co-stars, particularly Naomie Harris as the ultimate film nut, Gillian Anderson as the American brought in to boost the project's profile, and Brydon as Tristram's Uncle Toby are as game for the challenge as their fearless leader. Consequently, Tristram Shandy isn't just one of Winterbottom's best films--it's one of the year's best. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
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