But we watch. We watch with growing anticipation as Lucrezia becomes more shrewd and bitter. And we watch so we can see Jeremy Irons — sonorous of voice, blackened of eye — chew every bit of delicious scenery he can get his teeth into, whether he's outlining the map of Italy on his mistresses's bare leg or soaping a noblewoman in his tub while she addresses him as "Holy Father." And we watch so we can share in the joke of his longing to be "a simple priest, praying to the God of Abraham."

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