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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 9 September 2009
The trials and tribulations of Kenneth Williams: has there ever been an existence so finely suited to a dramatization? Has there ever been a span of life screaming so loudly to be explored and dissected?
Confused, unfulfilled, excessively complicated and psychotically frustrated - both physically and artistically.
An actors dream I would imagine; along the lines of King Lear or Joan of Arc...

Obviously, there's more to playing Williams than pulling faces and saying "stop messin' about" in a silly voice and Sheen is well alive to this. His representation in 'Fantabulosa' is intimate, amusing and warm. There's not many actors physically suited to playing Williams, never mind getting inside his ever expanding psyche, but Sheen manages both. Impressively and colourfully.
Whether he's displaying cheerful disdain to an adoring public or subtly exploring the dark corners of a desperately awkward and eventually solitary sexuality, Sheen is superb at every asking. There is no hint of accidental rightness anywhere; either in Sheen's performance or in the body of 'Fantabulosa' itself.
The awards speak for themselves.

The script is a tantalizing mix of license, anecdote and extract from Williams own word - primarily his famous diaries. Sheen's voice-over is tremendous, possibly the highlight of the film: delicate, accomplished inflection replacing the bawdiness and ribaldry of elsewhere.

The only minor criticism is, of course, 'Fantabulosa's length. Major characters are whipped past (his association with Joe Orton, for example, is worthy of a film in itself), in order to keep the whole shebang moving, but as it's as much the Sheen Show as it is the Williams Story, even this is not damagingly detrimental. It is slightly vulgar that so much of such an entertainingly full life should be omitted to the appeasement of time (Williams is furious, wherever he is), but maybe that's just reviewer greed.
Leave 'em wanting more....as they say.

'Fantabulosa' is something we often do brilliantly in this country - being done brilliantly again. Moving drama with humour and guile; gripping from the off, and not letting go 'til the final haunting sequence.
Superbly mounted, staged, filmed, scored, cast and directed.
You don't really need to be told to buy this, do you?
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on 25 June 2012
I saw Fantabulosa just before I saw Hattie and it's great to see the different approach the way it was filmed.
Kenneth's disturbing life and mental state compared to the all loving mum and mistress, and mentally totally healthy woman Hattie is.
The movie makes you a bit uneasy but that is just the point because it puts the director's view very forward.
The film also doesn't re-enact scenes from 'Carry On' only some behind the scenes of...only rightly so because it would have probably spoilt the point
His fear of contamination greatly destroying his sex life, his omnipresent mother, the friendship with Joe Orton, are portrayed in a very good way
One thing's for sure.
I'd rather have lived the life of Hattie Saint-Jacques
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on 21 November 2011
Yet another uncanny performance from Sheen.
This is a well-paced and sympathetic portrayal
of a very complicated and multi-layered personality
which has drawn on Williams' life as depicted in
both his diary entries and wonderful collection of
letters.I must admit to being quite bashfull when
it comes to the most private of parts in bios; never
really deciding whether I really need, or deserve,
to know too much of the most intimate of moments.
It's a difficult question to answer and with
"Fantabulosa" made all the more difficult with a
subject that is quite dear to my heart.
What KW would have made of this film we'll never
know.
Personally, I believe he would have been much more
uncomfortable than I was in the viewing.
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on 12 September 2010
I love this film and I'm pleased it has been released on DVD
There are some aspects of Kenneths life that have been skirted over
Some sequence of events have been altered possibly due to artistic licence
The film music score has been changed and is not as dramatic as the original broadcast version as screened on BBC4....This is a great pity in my opinion
I can honestly recommend this DVD to all fans of Kenneth Williams
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on 2 April 2010
I'm a big fan of Kenneth Williams... however, this DVD really does open the lid on another side of this talented comedy actor. He gave us the laughs, but it is so sad to see this hidden side of his life. A man in turmoil in many aspects of his existance, in particular not being able to accept his homosexuality.

I came away from watching this DVD, feeling rather sorry for him - but this still did not detract from my admiration of a comic genius. Just very very sad that his funny voice was all a bit of a front.

The portrail of Kenneth by Michael Sheen is nothing short of excellent. I had seen him play Tony Blair in "The Queen". He didn't disappoint there and he hasn't in this.
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on 25 April 2010
Compares very favourably with a wonderful radio biographical dramatisation I heard some years ago; an unadorned portrait of a man seemingly trapped within a body, sexual orientation and intellectual environment all of which he variously despised.

Funny, deeply personal, unsentimental, Sheen paints a picture of a man who could charm and annoy, entertain and exasperate in equal measure. Never feeling much part of this world, Williams left it leaving a warm memory but ultimately little of any real depth, something at which I fear he would ironically have sneered in his inimitably cynical manner.

Sheen is one of the acting world's great chameleons but he imbues his roles with his own character and energy; fascinating stuff
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on 30 May 2016
Fantabulosa highlights the true solitary existence of Kenneth Williams. Michael Sheen is superb as Kenneth and has a very strong supporting cast. Kenneth's inability to share his life with anyone is the mainstay of the film. If, like me, you've pretty much read all the books available on Kenneth then you'll note some of the life events represented here are in a slightly different order. However, this in no way hinders the story. If you like Kenneth Williams then this dvd is a must have!
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on 18 September 2015
As with so many Post War Performers Kenneth Williams Comedic talent came with a Dark Shadow of Depression and Sadness. This thoroughly honest telling of his story plays out His life via His Early Years and Diary entries revealing a Man that while flamboyant in the Public eye,was crippled with Guilt and mental/Physical issues in private.Michael Sheen is a revelation doing His usual Job in bringing a Character to life to the point that you are completely sucked in and forget You're wathing him and not Williams.One of the Best Bios ive ever seen.
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on 28 May 2016
A number of bio-pics over recent years have covered the stars I grew up with - Peter Sellers, Bob Crane et al - and usually disillusioned me about the Goons and 'Hogan's Heroes'. When I saw 'Fantabulosa!' I should probably not have expected any different. At school my friends and I loved Williams - his voice, his manner, his characterizations on radio and in 'Carry On' movies. We never worried - or even thought about - the can of worms his private life might be. I kind of hoped that, now and then, 'Fantabulosa!' might give us a few laughs, make us feel good.
Well, it was different, if only in degree, to all the other earthy bio-pics. It left me thinking that of all the amusing stars who have been depicted as flawed humans, he must rate some kind of award. His career, as depicted, seemed to have no big events in it. It just plodded on in the workaday world of British entertainment. His big crises were in his mind. All it left me was an amusing artist who was just a sad clown. His career had no soaring moments or deep lows, just a plodding fear on his part to relax and be himself.
And, that said, Michael Sheen did well, playing all the amusing mannerisms to leave us with an image of a man to feel a little sorry for. I guess I can cheer myself up by saying, "Oooh, don't be like thaat!"
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on 8 November 2013
An excellent portrayal of Kenneth. This film only touches on small and incidental parts of his life but it is extremely well written and very poignant.

I would have awarded 5 stars but I was slightly disappointed in Michael Sheen.
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