The lives of a great artist, a corrupted holy man, and a beautiful woman cross paths at a crucial moment in history in this epic-scale historical drama from director Milos Forman. Near the end of the 18th century, Francisco Goya (Stellan Skarsgård) is a gifted but controversial artist whose provocative and often satirical work has earned the enmity of the Spanish government as well as the Catholic Church, who hold tremendous power as the Inquisition rages. Surprisingly, Brother Lorenzo (Javier Bardem), a monk involved in the Inquisition, has hired Goya to paint a portrait of himself, and to prove to the Inquisitor General (Michel Lonsdale) he's not in cahoots with the renegade artist, Lorenzo targets Inés (Natalie Portman), one of Goya's favorite models, as a possible heretic. Under torture from Lorenzo, Inés signs a false confession, and her wealthy and powerful father, Tomás Bilbatúa (José Luis Gómez), offers Lorenzo a taste of his own medicine by brow-beating him into signing a document confessing that his mother was an ape. Lorenzo flees Spain as his reputation lies in tatters, and Goya earns greater infamy as he paints a wildly unflattering portrait of Queen María Luisa (Blanca Portillo) under commission from her husband, King Carlos IV (Randy Quaid), but Inés remains in prison thanks to her coerced confession. Fifteen years later, Lorenzo has become a follower of the Enlightenment, and returns to Spain as Napoleon's forces storm the nation and the Inquisition finally collapses; Lorenzo attempts to liberate Inés from prison, but a shocking discovery awaits him.
by Mark Deming synopsis