Sunday, May 28, 2006

Funny Literary Adaptation

by Michael Winterbottom

Tristram Shandy was a postmodern novel before there was a modernism to be post about.

While I read a good chunk of Tristram Shandy, I don’t remember finishing it. But I do remember that it was very funny and somewhat bawdy and surprisingly experimental. With Michael Winterbottom’s adaptation of Laurence Sterne’s novel, he manages to bring a sophisticated and yet anarchic vision to a story that is filled with digressions. The film manages to move effortlessly between drama and comedy and has a dizzying number of narrative threads running through it. It all feels casual, but as the story unfolds there is a great deal of control as more pieces of the puzzle fit together. While there is an intellectual level that is enjoyable, it is also a lot of fun. It’s a similar film in terms of style and structure as Winterbottom’s 24 Hour Party People but instead of the Manchester music scene, he explores a difficult (but entertaining) English novel.

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