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WILL AN ME: Much Ado About Nothing (2012) Review
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (2012) REVIEW:
CAST: Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Reed Diamond, Nathan Fillion, Clark Gregg, Fran Kranz, Sean Maher, Jillian Morgese, Spencer Treat Clark, Riki Lindhome, Ashley Johnson, Emma Bates, Tom Lenk, Nick Kocher, Brian McElhaney, Joshua Zar, Paul M. Meston, Romy Rosemont.
Producer—Joss Whedon and Kai Cole
Writers—Screenplay by Joss Whedon; adapted from the play by William Shakespeare
When one hears about a project like this, you would never expect it to become a smash hit:
“In today’s news, Joss Whedon, the writer and director behind Buff the Vampire Slayer, Dollhouse and The Avengers, shall be adapting William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing—one of the Elizabethan playwright’s least popular plays—for the big screen with his frequent collaborators like Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Nathan Fillion and Fran Kranz in starring roles.” (And that’s not a quote from a newspaper by the way, that’s just an example of what might have been said when the news of the project was announced.)
It doesn’t sound like something that could be a masterpiece….until one takes the time to actually watch the film! For those who were cynical about Whedon’s adaptation of a Shakespeare play (I haven’t actually heard about this project and its director until a couple of weeks ago, so I was definitely not one of those who assumed the worse), I suggest that you start drinking a nice big mug of Open Mindedness for this is a film that surprises you and satisfies you in so many ways!
Leonato (Clark Gregg), the governor of Messina, is visited by his friend Don Pedro (Reed Diamond) who is returning from a victorious campaign against his rebellious brother Don John (Sean Maher). Accompanying Don Pedro are two of his officers: Benedick (Alexis Denisof) and Claudio (Fran Kranz). While in Messina, Claudio falls for Leonato's daughter Hero (Jillian Morgese), while Benedick verbally spars with Beatrice (Amy Acker), the governor's niece. The budding love between Claudio and Hero prompts Don Pedro to arrange with Leonato for a marriage. In the days leading up to the ceremony, Don Pedro, with the help of Leonato, Claudio and Hero, attempts to sport with Benedick and Beatrice in an effort to trick the two into falling in love. Meanwhile, the villainous Don John, with the help of his allies Conrade (Riki Lindhome) and Borachio (Spencer Treat Clark), plots against the happy couple, using his own form of trickery to try to destroy the marriage before it begins. A series of comic and tragic events may continue to keep the two couples from truly finding happiness, but then again….perhaps love may prevail.
Like with my review of Olivier’s Hamlet and Branagh’s Henry V, I have nothing wordy to say about it, other than “It’s great!” (But unlike my Hamlet/Henry V review, I have no nit-picks to share whatsoever! Whilst I found something didn’t sit well with me in those two films, in this flick, it was 100% perfect, from start to finish! And if I did have a nit-pick, I wouldn’t even dare to mention it! Only an utter C-word would have the nerve to say something negative about a five star film like this!)
The cast is brilliant (notably Alexis Denisof as Benedict, and Nathan Fillion as the hilarious Constable Dogberry)—and how they recited their Shakespearean lines deserves a lot of handshakes for making the text sound like every day dialect. It’s really impressive to see them make 400 year old phrases sound as if people of the 21st century talk like this today. They do not say their words like a typical Olivier or Orson Welles; they just speak like every day people.
And of course, the production itself is amazing: Whedon does a fantastic job at directing for a genre that’s a million miles away from his comfort zone (something that he should have been given endless recognition for); the production design (and choice of setting) is nothing short of breath taking, wondrous and magical; the cinematography is ingenious (the idea of shooting it in black-and-white makes this film stand out amongst the other arthouse pieces of twenty-twelve); and the music that features in the film (including two heartfelt singles set to lyrics written by Shakespeare himself) is the most moving thing you can ever hear in your life!
Though Much Ado About Nothing may not have been the strongest plays Shakespeare ever wrote (I guess all wordsmiths must have an off day at some point), Joss Whedon has truly made one think twice about that negative statement by breathing new life into it. He has proven that we should not play favourites with the bard’s massive list of works, but honour all of them as works of art equally. One should never under-estimate how special Shakespeare’s lesser comedies are to the world.
Like a musical film without the music, this feature will leave you full of positivity for the rest of the week. It’s a cute feel-good comedy that anyone feeling blue must watch straight away. If I was hosting a new series of At The Movies, I would most definitely give it two thumbs up.