Friday, 24 June 2016

Shakespeare Retold: Much Ado About Nothing (2005)

If you read my review of Joss Whedon's version of Much Ado About Nothing - though to judge from the Google analytics not many of you did, for some reason - then you'll know my biggest complaint about the film was that Whedon re-dressed it with modern sets and costumes, but then used exactly the same story and dialogue as the original.  It felt like a missed opportunity.

No such problems plague this version of the tale, made for British TV about a decade ago.  It translates the action to a regional TV show in the modern day, updates the dialogue accordingly, and makes the necessary story changes to have events fit the 21st century setting.  Beyond that though, it remains at heart a story of two couples: one who get all the humour, and one which gets all the drama.

Beatrice and Benedick, eternally bickering and thus inevitably lovebirds, are the former couple.  They're also the anchors of the TV show.  The other couple are Hero and Claude, who present the weather and the sports sections of the program respectively.

The fly in the ointment here is Don, who has recently been demoted from his position as director of the show.  Old Don has something of a nice guy stalker thing going on with Hero, who unfortunately made the mistake of having pity-sex with him once.  He sets out to ruin Hero and Claude's impending marriage.

I like pretty much all the changes this adaptation makes.  I won't go into detail about what they are because I think that part of the point of these adaptations is to experience how the change in setting and sensibilities impacts the story.

If you're interested at all in seeing how the play has been re-imagined, or if you're one of those people who just can't follow Shakespearian dialogue, or if you're just in the market for a fairly light-hearted romantic drama, this is a pleasant 90 minute diversion.

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