Much Ado About Nothing
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In "Much Ado About Nothing," that formula works to near-perfection. A comedy of errors possibly written in one of the Bard's busiest years (1599) - although as usual, dating is a minor guessing game - "Much Ado" lives primarily from its timeless characters, making it an ideal object for transformation a la Branagh. Thus, renaissance Sicily becomes 19th century Tuscany (although the location's name, Messina, remains unchanged); and the intrigues centering around the battle of the sexes between Signor Benedick of Padua (Branagh) and Lady Beatrice (Thompson), the niece of Messina's governor Don Leonato (Richard Briers), and their love's labors won - initially the play's intended title; Benedick and Beatrice are a more liberated version of the earlier "Love's Labor's Lost"'s Biron and Rosaline - as well as the schemes surrounding the play's other couple, Benedick's friend Claudio (Robert Sean Leonard) and Beatrice's cousin Hero (Kate Beckinsale) become a light-hearted counterpoint to the more serious, politically charged intrigues of novels such as Stendhal's "Charterhouse of Parma:" Indeed, the military campaign from which Benedick and Claudio are returning with Don Pedro, Prince of Aragon (Denzel Washington) at the story's beginning could easily be one associated with Italy's 19th century struggle for nationhood.Read more ›
The sullen Don John has just been stopped in a rebellion against his brother Don Pedro, by young hero Claudio. Now all of them (including Don John, whom his brother has forgiven) are arriving in Messina, the home of kindly Leonato. But when they get there, Claudio immediately falls in love with Leonato's beautiful daughter Hero. And despite the efforts of Don John, Don Pedro manages to get the two young lovers together and altar-bound.
But Don Pedro isn't willing to stop there. Hero's cousin Beatrice has a long-running feud with Claudio's pal Benedick -- they insult each other, they bicker, they argue about everything ("It is so indeed -- he is no less than a stuffed man!"). What's more, both of them swear to stay single forever. ("All women shall pardon me -- I shall live a bachelor!") Pedro and the others conspire to get Benedick and Beatrice to somehow fall in love with each other. And at first it seems that everything is going well -- until Don John manages to cast doubt on Hero's honor
There's a certain timeless quality to "Much Ado" -- not just the dialogue, but the simple costumes and the buildings in it. That leaves the audience free to pay more attention to the dialogue and its plot. And what a plot it is! "Much Ado" is brimming over with funny dialogue, dastardly plots, comedic supporting characters and weird pairings.Read more ›
Branagh has outdone himself in this tale of young men and women in love. It is set in the gorgeous Italian countryside, all warm sunshine and bright colors. The actors positively glow with happiness and health.
Branagh plays an almost self-parodying arrogant ham with just the right note of swagger and hidden insecurity. His battles of wit with Emma Thompson's Beatrice bring some of Shakespeare's cleverest writing to vivid life. Denzel Washington makes for a truly regal prince, and Michael Keaton puts in a knee-slapping cameo as the Beetlejuice-ish Dogberry.
This is one of Shakespeare's best comedies and Branagh films it excellently, moving the plot along and keeping things light. The title is apt -- the problems the characters face aren't difficult to solve -- and Branagh thankfully doesn't take any of the proceedings too seriously.
This is Shakespeare as it was intended to be. It's not actors dressed in tights histrionically shouting lines; it's funny and vibrant with a strong pulse. It's a feel-great movie and not to be missed, by Shakespeare loyalists or by anybody else.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Thanks heaven for Kenneth Branagh. He's brought a whole new generation around to appreciating Shakespeare. This production seems as if it could be happening today. Read morePublished 2 days ago by Lucinda Sage-Midgorden
Had to watch this for an English class, not bad for Shakespeare.Published 3 days ago by Amazon Customer
This movie was a sleeper. An excellent screen play, very good acting, writing by William Shakespeare, and absolutely fun to watch. Read morePublished 7 days ago by ITCS
Very close to orginal play. Saw it before I saw this at Shakespeare Festival. Made the play much more interesting.Published 12 days ago by Amazon Customer
Brilliant rousing musical production. Just excellent in so many ways. Wonderful characters, fabulous acting and a sweet darling tale.Published 18 days ago by Book Lover
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