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Stage Beauty

105 customer reviews

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(Mar 08, 2005)
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Editorial Reviews

Billy Crudup, Claire Danes, Rupert Everett, Tom Wilkinson. The compelling story of the last man to play a woman on stage in a Shakespearean play, and the woman who replaces him after the King declares that women may perform in public theatre. 2004/color/109 min/R/fullscreen.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Billy Crudup, Claire Danes, Rupert Everett, Derek Hutchinson, Mark Letheren
  • Directors: Richard Eyre
  • Writers: Jeffrey Hatcher
  • Producers: Amir Jacob Malin, Hardy Justice, James D. Stern, Jane Rosenthal, Jill Tandy
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Lions Gate
  • DVD Release Date: March 8, 2005
  • Run Time: 106 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (105 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00079HZUM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,988 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Stage Beauty" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

69 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 19, 2004
Perhaps thought patterns are changing and prejudices against gay characters are indeed abating. At least hearing the audience delight after viewing STAGE BEAUTY makes a case for more mainstream male actors to shed the fear of taking on roles that feature gender and sexuality variations: Russell Crowe, Colin Farrell, Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Antonio Banderas, Javier Bardem, Rodrigo Santoro, Gael Garcia Bernal, et al have all performed sensitively as gay men despite their macho image - the once small list is now respectably large. And now add Billy Crudup and Ben Chaplin to that ever-growing list. Bravo to that change.

STAGE BEAUTY (in the screenplay version of his own play 'The Compleat Female Stage Beauty' by Jeffrey Hatcher) is set in the mid 17th century with all the frills and foibles of British dandies and ladies visually intact. This is the time when female roles were assumed by male actors (the theater was simply no place for ladies to participate) and we are introduced to Mr. Kynaston (in a brilliant, multifaceted performance by Billy Crudup!) as he portrays Desdemona in Shakespeare's 'Othello'. He is attended by a dresser Maria Hughes (Claire Danes, another superlative acting achievement) who longs to act and steals away after performances in the theater run by actor Betterton (Tom Wilkinson) to a tavern where she assumes the memorized roles Kynaston performs on the royally approved stage.

Kynaston has been raised to portray women on stage (and indeed in life) and responds to men as a woman (his lover is the Duke of Buckingham - Ben Chaplin).
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on October 8, 2005
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Comparisons between "Stage Beauty" and "Shakespeare in Love" are inevitable, but this 2004 film does not suffer much by the contrast to that Oscar winner for Best Picture. Both films deal with the conventions of the English stage that dictated the roles of women be played by men and while both have a woman who wants to play a woman's role, this one has a man who wants to play only women's roles. Both films conclude with a live performance in which the focal character ends up playing the opposite of their original roles. Both films are intricately involved with the Shakespeare plays being performed to such an extent that it goes beyond life imitating art. But whereas "Shakespeare in Love" was about writing and love, "Stage Beauty" is about acting and love, and I think it is ultimately more about its primary artistic focus than about romance.

When it comes to performing the classical plays of Shakespeare or the tragedies of the ancient Greeks, I believe in realistic (nee naturalistic) acting rather than following the acting conventions of those periods in contemporary performances. I enjoy those conventions, but I also think that if you can break the poetic constraints of the dialogue you can make those texts come alive for contemporary audiences. So one of the reasons "Stage Beauty" resonates so strong for me is that it not only endorses but also celebrates the idea that such realism can have much more of a profound impact on an audience that those historically accurate sytlistic conventions.
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 16, 2004
I saw this film the evening after seeing Being Julia and thoroughly enjoyed both. Much of Stage Beauty is based on historical material which Helen Wilcox examines in Women in Literature in Britain, 1500-1700. Jeffrey Hatcher's screenplay is based on his own Compleat Female Stage Beauty, a play first performed in 1999. We know that Edward (Ned) Kynaston (1640-1706) was among the last and reputedly the best of the male actors of female parts in dramas performed prior to the Restoration period. Following his coronation, King Charles II decreed that females would be permitted to appear on stage in roles previously performed only by males. For many male actors, the subsequent transition was very, very difficult. There are certain parallels with the difficulties that stars such as John Gilbert had during the transition from silent films to "the talkies."

What we have in Stage Beauty is a delightful presentation of that age and, more specifically, of Kynaston's struggles (brilliantly presented by Billy Crudup) to salvage his career in juxtaposition with those of his dresser Maria (Claire Danes), an unskilled but aspiring actress, who seeks Ned's tutelage to advance her own career. Frankly, I did not immediately recognize the always-superb Rupert Everett in the role of Charles II. Others in the supporting cast include Ben Chaplin (as George Villars, Duke of Buckingham) and Tom Wilkinson (as Thomas Betterton). Historically, Betterton was once highly praised for his performance in Shakespeare's the role of Ophelia. In Stage Beauty, Kynaston plays Ophelia to Betterton's Moor of Venice. After Kynaston rejects the advances of the lecherous Sir Charles Sedley (Richard Griffiths), Sedley hires thugs to beat Kynaston so severely that he can no longer perform until his wounds have healed.
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