I've never read Laurence Sterne's "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman," and apparently, that's no small feat anyhow. After all, Sterne's protagonist starts out just before his birth and spends his time describing so many tangents of his existence that the book ends by the time his life has barely begun.

But I was delighted by the approach with which director Michael Winterbottom and writer Frank Cottrell Boyce adapted the seemingly unfilmable novel -- by making a movie about making the movie, which itself never quite gets around to unfolding. Steve Coogan plays a version of himself who's trying to keep his supporting actor/co-lead down and his girlfriend and newborn happy, in addition to juggling the production and the press and the pressures that come with the shoot as a whole.

It's all so delightfully twisty and sly, and I suspect that it's very much keeping in spirit with Sterne's work. I'm not sure that I could pick one favorite scene (actually, maybe the bit where an exceptionally perky Gillian Anderson gets hired), but YouTube has cut my work out for me. There's only one full scene I can embed here, but it's as much a doozy as most, as Coogan acts like he's coping with a hot chestnut in his trousers, only to then try it with an actual hot chestnut (or did he?).

As for the entire movie -- which also stars Dylan Moran, Kelly Macdonald, Stephen Fry, Jeremy Northam, and Naomie Harris -- at least I can promise it'll only run about ninety minutes. Talk about making a long story short....

Watch the video after the jump

CATEGORIES Cinematical