Freelance writer. Melbourne based cinephile. Fond of food.
Published July 14th 2013
Joss Whedon tackles the Bard
Director: Joss Whedon (The Avengers, Cabin In the Woods) Cast: Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Nathan Fillion
After directing the mega-hit that was The Avengers, Joss Whedon had the luxury of choosing anything he wanted as his next project. To his credit, he eschewed what many would do, by making more of the same, and chose instead to adapt Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing - in black and white, no less.
Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker and the feuding Benedick and Beatrice
For those that have followed Whedon since his Buffy days, such a move is not so surprising. He's always liked to dabble in other genres, his brief forays into musicals being particularly left field. Even so, this is a daring choice commercially.
Shakespeare purists will be pleased to note that the text of his play is not tinkered with greatly. Although the story is updated to a modern day setting, the iambic pentameter is kept intact. This is a little jarring in the first scene, but it doesn't take long to adjust.
For Whedon die-hards, there is much mirth to be had by watching some of his frequently used actors playing completely against type and sprouting Shakespeare's original words. The audience at the screening I attended was wetting themselves with laughter at the slightest provocation. For the rest of us not so amused by this novelty, there is still the timelessness of the text. This is a fair rendering of it, although the humour will likely be a little too broad for many.
The cast tackle their roles with gusto, Amy Ackers and Alexis Denisof do particularly well as the feuding Beatrice and Benedick. Whedon's house makes for a nice backdrop, with it's airy, uncluttered appearance being not dissimilar to the direction itself.
Given this was knocked off in 12 days on a tiny budget, its was never meant to set the world on fire. The final audience-pleasing 20 minutes or so is by far the strongest section of the film, otherwise it's merely a pleasant enough time-filler (unless you're a Whedon die-hard, in which case you were going to love it anyway).