Friday, 2 May 2014

Much Ado About Nothing (2013)

"When I said I would die a bachelor, I did not think I should live till I were married."

This may be one of the most low budget films I will ever review for this blog, yet it is quietly wonderful; filmed entirely in the grounds of Joss Whedon's house in classy monochrome, a cast of Whedon's usual suspects combine with the enforced creativity of filming caused by the restricted locations to create some real magic.

Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof have always been actors worthy of the greatest roles, and they both shine as Beatrice and Benedick. Clark Gregg, a natural at benevolent authority figures, is an excellent Leonato, while Sean Maher is suitably sinister as Don John. Fran Kranz (against type) and newcomer Jillian Morgese are also highlights as Claudio and Hero. The cast is rounded out by Reed Diamond as Don Pedro and, intriguingly, Nathan Fillion in a comic role as the delightfully soft man of malapropism a Dogberry.

The different rooms of the house are nicely used to separate the characters during the masked ball, but the best framed scenes are those whereby first Benedick and then Beatrice are made to "overhear" talk that the other loves them. Denisof's comic acting is superb here, but both he and Acker are also naturals at delivering the ensuing soliloquys.

This is one of Shakespeare's most enjoyable comedies, with much wise philosophising on the ways of love and relationships, although even those, such as myself, who are burdened with a "y" chromosome find it hard, looking across the centuries, not to notice the appalling gender double standards at play here. Leonato, in particular, is not a sympathetic character to modern eyes in his denunciation of Hero at her aborted wedding, but Clark Gregg deals with this as well as can be done.

I urge you to see this wonderful film. What can be better than both Joss Whedon and William Shakespeare?

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