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Much Ado About Nothing - Film Review

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by John Andrew (subscribe)
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Published July 30th 2013
Shakespeare for dummies and scholars
Whedon's "Much Ado About Nothing" is literally a home movie it is filmed in his Santa Monica home, and with many of the "usual suspects" who have been in his earlier films.

There are up-to-the-minute moments an i-Pod giving background music, and security guards in Blues Brothers suits and sunglasses. But it is shot in timeless black and white, and retains Shakespeare's Elizabethan language. After a little time to adjust we forget the anachronism, and enjoy the wit. For most of the time, the jokes still work, as does the quirky plot.

Maybe Whedon kept a bit too much some of Shakespeare's allegedly comic patter has dated so much as to be incomprehensible. The aforementioned security guards struggle manfully with this problem, and, for the most part, manage to rescue their parts. Some brilliant non-verbal stagecraft helps us to follow the action, and to overlook some of the dated dialogue.

"Much Ado About Nothing" as the title suggests, is on one level a well crafted comedy. Leonato and Hero fall in love, and are about to marry an out-come put at risk by the machinations of Don John. The guests at the house-party determine to see if they can make the shrewish Beatrice and the commitment phobic Benedick fall in love, telling each that the other is desperately in love with them.

A great deal of the laughter and joy of the film depends on Beatrice and Benedick and they do not let us down.

Modernising the play while retaining the language of the original plot leaves some loose ends when, for instance, modern people express feudal attitudes but the energy and pace of the production easily sweep such aside such moments.

Whether you are a Shakespeare lover, or have never read or seen one of his plays, this production will engage and entertain you, while also managing to convey timeless insights into the joys and follies of love.

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