The Borgias

Though its title may suggest a gore-strewn trawl through the life and times of one of the late 15th/ early 16th century's most notorious families, helmer Antonio Hernandez and scripter Piero Bodrato's "The Borgias," is a muted, character-based approach that's more interested in real lives than legends.

With:
With: Lluis Homar, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Sergio Muniz, Maria Valverde, Eloy Azorin, Roberto Alvarez, Antonio Dechent, Antonio Hernandez, Eusebio Poncela, Paz Vega, Angela Molina, Linda Batista. (Spanish dialogue)

Though its title may suggest a gore-strewn trawl through the life and times of one of the late 15th/ early 16th century’s most notorious families, helmer Antonio Hernandez and scripter Piero Bodrato’s “The Borgias,” is a muted, character-based approach that’s more interested in real lives than legends. The result is an involving, well-played though staid drama. Shot for TV and cut for theatrical purposes, pic has done steady business since early October release; offshore prospects look decent in Spanish-language and selected Euro territories.

After showing the arrest of Cesar Borgia (Sergio Peris-Mencheta) for the murder of his brother, Juan (Sergio Muniz), pic flashes back to 12 years earlier, when the Spanish-born Borgia brothers — ambitious Cesar, wild boy Juan and insecure Jofre (Eloy Azorin) — are in Rome for the election of a new Pope: their father, Rodrigo (Lluis Homar).

Rodrigo, now Alejandro VI, immediately marries off his children to expand the Vatican’s (and the Borgias’) interests.

His daughter, Lucrecia (Maria Valverde) — presented here as the unwilling victim of her father rather than the bloodthirsty femme of legend — will marry Giovanni Sforza , scion of the Borgias’ rival family.

Cesar, hungry for military glory, is disappointed to be named a cardinal, while Juan is made a captain in the army. Jofre will marry Sancha of Aragon (Linda Batista).

Script plays out like a primer in Machiavellian politics. Sticking responsibly and somewhat studiously to the known historical facts, pic does a good job of cutting the Borgia legend down to size while showing how the fates of nations are the results of despots’ whims.

Lantern-jawed Peris-Mencheta, who has a strapping physique, delivers his best film perf in as Cesar, though without ever touching the character’s evil depths. Paz Vega does good work late on as the warrior-like Caterina Sforza.

Mostly shot in interiors, pic is epic only in its length, with few big exterior set pieces. Angel Illarramendi’s score is more lyrical than bombastic, but at times extremely effective in underscoring the mood. Period detail feels authentic.

Dubbing of Italian thesps into Spanish, however, is atrocious.

The Borgias

Spain-Italy

Production: A DeAPlaneta release (in Spain) of an Antena 3, Ensueno Films (Spain)/DAP (Italy) production, in association with RTVV. (International sales: DeAPlaneta, Madrid.) Produced by Tedy (cq) Villalba, Guido De Angelis. Directed by Antonio Hernandez. Screenplay, Piero Bodrato.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Javier Garcia Salmones; editor, Ivan Aledo; music, Angel Illarramendi; art director, Stilde Ambruzzi; sound (Dolby Digital), Ivan Marin. Reviewed at Cine Princesa, Madrid, Oct. 12, 2006. Running time: 151 MIN.

With: With: Lluis Homar, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Sergio Muniz, Maria Valverde, Eloy Azorin, Roberto Alvarez, Antonio Dechent, Antonio Hernandez, Eusebio Poncela, Paz Vega, Angela Molina, Linda Batista. (Spanish dialogue)

More Film

  • Dwayne Johnson's 'Skyscraper' Leads China Box

    China Box Office Propels 'Skyscraper' to $75 Million Overseas

    Though its title may suggest a gore-strewn trawl through the life and times of one of the late 15th/ early 16th century’s most notorious families, helmer Antonio Hernandez and scripter Piero Bodrato’s “The Borgias,” is a muted, character-based approach that’s more interested in real lives than legends. The result is an involving, well-played though staid […]

  • No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No

    Box Office: 'Equalizer 2' Narrowly Edges Past 'Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again' to Land at No. 1

    Though its title may suggest a gore-strewn trawl through the life and times of one of the late 15th/ early 16th century’s most notorious families, helmer Antonio Hernandez and scripter Piero Bodrato’s “The Borgias,” is a muted, character-based approach that’s more interested in real lives than legends. The result is an involving, well-played though staid […]

  • Durban FilmMart Celebrates Women as Industry

    Durban FilmMart Celebrates Women as Industry Still Struggles With Transformation

    Though its title may suggest a gore-strewn trawl through the life and times of one of the late 15th/ early 16th century’s most notorious families, helmer Antonio Hernandez and scripter Piero Bodrato’s “The Borgias,” is a muted, character-based approach that’s more interested in real lives than legends. The result is an involving, well-played though staid […]

  • MayFair, directed by Sara Blecher

    Sara Blecher’s ‘Mayfair’ Brings Feminine Gaze to Gangster Tale

    Though its title may suggest a gore-strewn trawl through the life and times of one of the late 15th/ early 16th century’s most notorious families, helmer Antonio Hernandez and scripter Piero Bodrato’s “The Borgias,” is a muted, character-based approach that’s more interested in real lives than legends. The result is an involving, well-played though staid […]

  • Todd Brown, XYZ Films

    African Finance Under Spotlight at Durban FilmMart  

    Though its title may suggest a gore-strewn trawl through the life and times of one of the late 15th/ early 16th century’s most notorious families, helmer Antonio Hernandez and scripter Piero Bodrato’s “The Borgias,” is a muted, character-based approach that’s more interested in real lives than legends. The result is an involving, well-played though staid […]

  • Ryan Reynolds'Deadpool' panel, Comic-Con International, San

    Ryan Reynolds Wants to Explore Deadpool's Bisexuality in Future Films

    Though its title may suggest a gore-strewn trawl through the life and times of one of the late 15th/ early 16th century’s most notorious families, helmer Antonio Hernandez and scripter Piero Bodrato’s “The Borgias,” is a muted, character-based approach that’s more interested in real lives than legends. The result is an involving, well-played though staid […]

  • Mandatory Credit: Photo by Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock (9243328q)From

    Jonathan Gold, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Restaurant Critic, Dies at 57

    Though its title may suggest a gore-strewn trawl through the life and times of one of the late 15th/ early 16th century’s most notorious families, helmer Antonio Hernandez and scripter Piero Bodrato’s “The Borgias,” is a muted, character-based approach that’s more interested in real lives than legends. The result is an involving, well-played though staid […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content