Much Ado About Nothing

A splendid second chance for my OTP.
"Shakespeare knows how to throw a party."

Welcome to the Tagline, as promised I found a movie that has nothing to do with teens or vampires. I went out to the local art cinema (I am lucky enough to live about ten minutes away from a pretty decent one) and saw Much Ado About Nothing, probably my favorite of Shakespeare's comedies, adapted and filmed on a micro-budget by Joss Whedon. The entire movie was shot inside Whedon's house, and the cast is a sort of Joss Whedon Alumni hall of fame. In case you have never read Much Ado About Nothing, or perhaps the last time you read it was when you were a freshman in high school here's a quick primer. Much Ado is primarily about two pairs of lovers. The younger pair are Claudio and Hero, who are very open and forward in their love, compared to Benedick and Beatrice, two witty individuals who rail frequently against love and marriage, and yet are very much in love with one another (though they refuse to admit it) In the midst of all this romance, Don John, brother of Don Pedro (who is the Prince of Aragon, and in the company of Claudio and Benedick) attempts to ruin the nuptial bliss of Claudio and Hero by dishonoring Hero, because Don John is basically a massive dickbag. In this Whedon adaptation, Benedick is portrayed by Alexis Denisof (who portrayed Wesley Wyndam Pryce first in Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and later in Angel) and Beatrice is portrayed by Amy Acker (who was romantically opposite Alexis Denisof in Angel as Winifred Burkle) Claudio is played by Fran Kranz (recently he starred in Whedon's Cabin in the Woods) and Hero is played by newcomer Jillian Morgese who previously was only an extra in a few movies (including the Avengers)

I always check under the counter for Amy Acker.
Other notable cast members include Clark Gregg (best known most recently as the unflappable Agent Coleson in the Avengers continuity of Marvel movies) as Don Leonato, Sean Maher as Don John (best known for his role as Simon on Firefly) Nathan Fillion is the incompetent Dogberry (Fillion has been in a number of Whedon's productions, notably Firefly) and Reed Diamond (notably of Whedon's Dollhouse) as Don Pedro. The bottom line there being that the movie plays more or less like a cast party at Whedon's house. Like so many screen adaptations of Shakespeare, Whedon retains Shakespeare's original script, but takes generous license with the spaces between lines (anyone familiar with Shakespeare will recall that there is precious little stage direction included, leaving considerable license). Whedon's adaptation of the film uses his impeccable sense of comedic timing to create a very funny adaptation of the film.

I have no explanation, but don't drink in the pool kids.
It might go without saying for someone familiar with them, but the whole cast turns in an outstanding performance. Denisof and Acker have real chemistry, borne probably of years performing together, and I found this particular rendition of Much Ado to be even more compelling than a stage production (which is saying something, I've seen three different productions of this play to date) It is worth noting that the whole film is in black and white, I kind of forgot that until just now actually. Other peculiarities of this adaptation include a particular reading of a few specific lines, that Whedon uses to imply that Benedick and Beatrice had been lovers prior to the beginning of the movie. This is different than traditional readings of the text, but it certainly adds additional drama to the story.

It's nice to see them together in a story that doesn't end
with both of their grisly deaths.
So do I recommend the film? Yeah I definitely do. I have to warn anyone going to see it though that it IS entirely in Shakespearean English, so if you aren't a big fan of that, or if you have a tough time understanding that, then you could have a tough time enjoying the movie. Honestly after about ten or so minutes, I didn't even notice anymore that they were reciting lines from about 400 years ago. The story they're telling is still wildly entertaining after all that time, and if there is a theater playing this movie near you, you should not miss it.

That's all I have for today! I'll see you all next week, with more movie mayhem! Maybe in black and white, we'll see how I feel!

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