fri 01/07/2022

DVD: Much Ado About Nothing | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Much Ado About Nothing

DVD: Much Ado About Nothing

Joss Whedon's Shakespeare experiment is a beguiling, challenging success

The cast works swimmingly in Whedon's modern 'Much Ado'The cast works swimmingly in Whedon's modern Much Ado About Nothing

What would happen if a top Hollywood and TV director decided to take actors familiar to him to make a Shakespearean comedy? Something very interesting, especially to those enamoured of The Bard.

Joss Whedon, creator of TV series like Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, Dollhouse and the beguiling Firefly, used Shakespeare to cleanse his palette after the hard graft of Avengers Assemble. Shot in 12 days, using many of his favourite ensemble actors dressed in modern clothing, this lively black and white comedy emphasizes the screwball nature of Much Ado before it pulls an emotional sleight of hand, exposing the deception and confusion inherent in relationships of all kinds.

The complicated story swings on the romantic twists of friends Benedick (Alexis Denisof) and Claudio (Fran Kranz). Falling in love with Leonato's daughter Hero (Jillian Morgese), Claudio sets himself up with bad brother Don John (Sean Maher) who begins causing unnecessary problems for all involved. A stand out among this terrific ensemble is Amy Acker, who, as Beatrice, fits a clever gal to energetic perfection.

As entertainment, some may find the language in Much Ado a struggle. The best Shakespeareans make his dialogue feel natural. This is not the case here, as few of Whedon’s cast can utter these heady words without strain. But it doesn’t matter when what could have been a heavy experiment is this deft, light and airy. That Shakespeare’s original text is unchanged outside of its setting, Conrad’s gender swap and a few other minor alterations showcase Whedon’s light touch and deep understanding of the nature of story, even with such hallowed texts as this. Be sure to listen to Whedon’s audio commentary in the DVD extras.

Few of Whedon’s cast can utter these heady words without strain

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Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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