MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
(directed by Josh Whedon, 2012)
**** (out of 5)
> The story behind this project is that actor Joss Whedon had a little time on his hands between obligations, so he gathered his theatre buddies together and made a quick little movie. There wasn’t really time to write a whole new script… but there was a very old script- conveniently in the public domain, material most actors love tackling: Shakespearean comedy. The offhand, impromptu genesis of this project sure doesn’t show!
. This crisply-photographed film appears anything but slapdash. This MUCH ADO is a hip, stylish, beautifully realized version of a play attributed to Shakespeare that just gets every detail right. I’ve always loved the play, despite the typically silly plot turns that make it challenging for modern audiences to swallow. That hardly seems to matter as the flowery prose of the text just rolls of the tongues of this ensemble of fresh young actors, in a way that seems strangely compatible with the modern GQ, Architectural Digest motif of their well-tailored suits, perfectly coiffed hair and the impeccable apartment in which the entire action is situated. (Whedon’s own digs. A lot cheaper this way.)
. Amy Acker (CATCH ME IF YOU CAN) is delightful as the tart-tongued wench Beatrice, but Alexis Denis (SAVING PRIVATE RYAN) as her nemesis/love interest Benedict was particularly wonderful. It was a pleasure to watch this deft actor convincingly turn in a heartbeat, from posing buffoon to heartfelt lover, managing a very touching transition. The cast and direction is so good, that it makes the impossible sexist silliness of the end almost palatable. I’ve seen a great many stage productions and film adaptations of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, but it’s easy to declare that Nathan Fillion was the best ‘Constable Dogberry’ I’ve ever seen. He made sure it will always be recorded in my head “that he is an ass”!
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