Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Much Ado About Nothing (2012)

As I was watching this movie, I waffled back and forth about whether or not to give it a recommendation, because I kept comparing it to the Kenneth Branagh version and feeling it came up short.  Ultimately I decided to do the fair thing though, and judge it solely on its own merits, so a qualified recommendation it is.

If you've read the review I linked above then there's probably not a lot I need tell you about the basic plot of the film.  Although director Joss Whedon has used modern sets and costumes for his costumes, and gender-flipped one role from male to female, he's not touched the story in any notable way.

In case you haven't read the other link: it's about two couples.  The first is Benedick and Beatrice, who ostensibly hate one another and argue constantly (so are clearly destined to be together) and who get all the funny bits of the script.  And then there's Claudio and Hero, who fall instantly in love and then have all the dramas, all the time - mostly because Claudio is kind of a jerk.

I think Whedon's failure to do anything new with the script is my biggest disappointment with the film.  The modern setting is purely cosmetic: the characters speak the same Shakespearian lines, display the same Shakespearian morals, and suffer the same Shakespearian coincidences and contrivances.  Watching the black and white visuals of men and women in elegant attire, I couldn't help but wish that I was watching a film noir retelling of the story, with suitably updated script and dialogue.

Still, despite my disappointment and the fact that I think the Branagh version is better, this is a well-made adaptation with a likeable cast.  And if you're a fan of Whedon's other works you're sure to recognise a fair few faces.

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