The first half of Milos Forman’s new film, Goya’s Ghosts, fares reasonably well. The second half, however, stumbles badly before falling into ruin.

Set amidst the brutal and turbulent Spain at the turn of the 19th century, the movie centers on the great painter Francisco Goya as he watches his country descend into various forms of chaos.

With lucrative reason for remaining neutral, Goya (Stellan Skarsgård) nonetheless finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into the fray as a result of two portraits he painted – one of a monk (Javier Bardem) and one of a beautiful young girl (Natalie Portman).

Begun from an intriguing conceit, Goya’s Ghosts nevertheless manages to run away from director Forman and his actors. As the plot, and Spain itself, descend into madness, so follows the picture with the characters turning into hammy caricatures and the story becoming maudlin.

Grade: C-

Goya’s Ghosts is currently available.