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Love's Labour's Lost

3.7 out of 5 stars 111 customer reviews

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(Dec 19, 2000)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

With Kenneth Branagh (WILD WILD WEST, CELEBRITY), Alicia Silverstone (BLAST FROM THE PAST), and Nathan Lane (AT FIRST SIGHT, MOUSE HUNT) leading a stellar ensemble cast, Stanley Donen and Martin Scorsese present a sexy, glamorous, and fun 1930's-style musical that's earned terrific critical acclaim! The King of Navare (Alessandro Nivola -- MANSFIELD PARK, FACE/OFF) and his three best friends think that they've sworn off love in the pursuit of intellectual enlightenment. But when the Princess of France (Silverstone) and her beautiful attendants arrive for a diplomatic visit, their high-minded plans are turned completely upside down! Then, as war rages and secret passions burn, loyalty and devotion are tested like never before! Also featuring hilarious Matthew Lillard (SHE'S ALL THAT, SCREAM) and the classic songs of Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, and more -- go back in time and allow yourself to be swept away by this wonderfully entertaining motion picture treat!

Having taken Shakespeare at his word on Hamlet (i.e., not cutting a single syllable out of a very long play), Kenneth Branagh selects a more radical approach with Love's Labour's Lost. Here the prolific director-star weeds out much of the play's dialogue and adds songs and dances of a decidedly modern bent. The King of Navarre (Alessandro Nivola, Nicolas Cage's wacko brother in Face/Off) and his three comrades (Branagh, Matthew Lillard, Adrian Lester) take a vow: no womanly distractions while they pursue their studies. Ah, but at that very moment, floating down a magical studio-built river, is the queen of France (Alicia Silverstone), accompanied by three ladies-in-waiting. You do the math. Branagh has set the tale on the eve of the Second World War, which allows for the inclusion of vintage pop songs, including "Cheek to Cheek," "The Way You Look Tonight," and a rousing chorus of "There's No Business Like Show Business," led by--who else?--Nathan Lane. The fact that most of the cast members are not accomplished song-and-dance folk is clearly meant to charm, but the results are spotty at best. Perhaps the most dynamic performer is Natascha McElhone (memorable from Ronin), whose aristocratic bearing and bottomless eyes lend a gravity to the material that is otherwise absent from Branagh's twinkly staging. The play contains some of Shakespeare's loveliest paeans to the language of love, yet Branagh seems to be in a hurry to juice everything up lest the audience lose interest. The labor shows. --Robert Horton

Special Features

  • Deleted Footage
  • Outtakes
  • Making Of

Product Details

  • Actors: Alfred Bell, Richard Briers, Richard Clifford, Carmen Ejogo, Daisy Gough
  • Directors: Kenneth Branagh
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Miramax
  • DVD Release Date: December 19, 2000
  • Run Time: 93 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004Z4WW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #95,372 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Love's Labour's Lost" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Love's Labour's Lost is true to the spirit of Shakespeare's comedy if not the text itself. A delightfully entertaining blend of Gershwin, Porter, and a little bit of the Bard, LLL is highly recommended for musical theatre lovers and anyone willing to consider Renaissance theatre in ways not involving pantaloons and talking to skulls. Nathan Lane is brilliant as Costard, here interpreted as a struggling vaudevillian; Lane lends vocal support (the weakest area of the cast) to the eleven o'clock number "There's No Business Like Show Business." Though the ensemble struggles through some of the musical numbers, the bittersweet "They Can't Take That Away From Me" is all the more moving because of their difficulties. The only number which seems not to fit within the framework of the play/musical/film is also its chief selling point; LLL publicity has focused upon the Fosse-esque "Let's Face the Music and Dance," which stands out in an otherwise charmingly coquettish production as a sexually charged sore thumb. As always, theatricality dominates Branagh's directorial style; look for long, sweeping shots and entire scenes filmed with a single camera and no cut-aways. Though many critics lambasted Branagh for cutting well over half of Shakespeare's text, the musical interludes fulfill much of the function of the missing lines in a way that is a dead-on throwback to an earlier generation of entertainment.
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By A Customer on August 7, 2002
Format: DVD
I've always loved Branagh. From the moment he made film history with HENRY V (by being the first person since Orson Welles to earn Oscar nominations for both actor and director for the same film) to the light touch he brough to his voice acting in the animated ROAD TO EL DORADO, he has always been a favorite.
But--a film musical based on one of Shakespeare's least-important works? Set in the late 1930's no less? Sounds almost as bad an idea as MOULIN ROUGE. Intrigued, we rented the film from Netflix.
AND FELL IN LOVE. Who cares about the chop-job he did on the "sacred" text? Who cares about the lack of voice in some of his singers? What we watched was a film that made us smile from the opening credits all the way through the final act.
Set aside your preconceptions about what a Shakespeare film should be. Set aside your ideas about what a musical should look like. Enjoy the fun of the film, the glamour of its costuming, its very likable cast. When most movies try to be either extravaganzas or "serious," it's nice to have Mr. Branagh and company give us something that does exactly what it sets out to do: give you a very pleasant entertainment.
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By A Customer on September 29, 2000
Format: DVD
This film was not widely released, but being an avid Branagh fan I made a trip to go see it, hoping it would become a favorite like his earlier film, Much Ado About Nothing. Alas, this was not the case. Although very cute, I felt like I was watching a high school drama production -mind you, a very good one- but I didn't think it was as up to par as some of his earlier films. The movie definitely does have a feeling of a MGM musical (I think that's what they were going for) and the songs are old favorites by Cole Porter, the Gershwins, and Irving Berlin. Amazingly enough, the actors sing, and quite well. Adrian Lester (previously seen in Primary Colors) has a great voice and was the best dancer in the cast. At times I felt that Alicia Silverstone (The Princess) seemed a little too southern California for Shakespeare, but even she began to grow on me during the movie.
Love's Labour's Lost is one of the Bard's lesser known plays and is very easy to understand. Although I seemed to rip on the movie, I truly did enjoy it. It's a light comedy, and even though it's Shakespeare, it won't have you scambling for your Cliffs Notes. A must see for fans of the Bard and musical lovers alike!
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Format: DVD
Kenneth Branagh is a rarity: a truly great stage and screen actor. And so one wonders what he is doing wasting his talents adapting, directing and starring in an (musical!) adaptation of one of Shakespeare's least-loved plays, Love's Labours Lost.

Perhaps Branagh thought that like his film adaptations of Henry V, and to a certain extent, Much Ado About Nothing, he could again dish out Shakespeare to the masses. Not in this case. I'm sure the whole cast sang really hard, and danced really hard, and gosh darn it, just gave it their all, but there's a limit. The singing, and dancing in this movie is amateurish at best. At worst, it's, well, frankly appalling. Although better choreography and less self-conscious singing may have helped matters, experienced moviegoers may wonder why in God's name Branagh wanted to stage musical numbers made famous by such virtuosos as Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. If you've seen American in Paris, Singin' in the Rain, or any of the Fred and Ginger musicals, you'll spend most of this movie cringing.

But what about Shakespeare? Does any of the Bard's poetry rise above this frothy mess of a musical? The answer to that is no, except when Branagh speaks. Then you suddenly remember that this man is one of the greatest Shakespearean actors of his generation, perhaps of all time. But these brilliant flashes of poetry are soon drowned out by another endless musical number. I could go on, but I won't. Let it suffice to say that there is really nothing to recommend this well-intended, yet hopelessly flawed musical adaptation save one person: Kenneth Branagh. And really, in all fairness, Branagh is the man responsible for the mess. So what should you do? Rent Branagh's Henry V, or Much Ado About Nothing, or, if you must see a musical, try Singin' in the Rain or Top Hat. But stay away from this movie unless you are a completist.
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