Friday, 2 August 2013

NZIFF Film Review: "Much Ado About Nothing" (2012).





"An awful lot of fun", which is what you’re in for with Much Ado About Nothing. This independent romantic comedy film adapted for the screen, produced, and directed by Joss Whedon, from William Shakespeare's play of the same name. It is a modern retelling of Shakespeare's classic comedy.

Much Ado About Nothing is a comedic play by William Shakespeare thought to have been written in 1598 and 1599, as Shakespeare was approaching the middle of his career. The play was included in the First Folio, published in 1623. Much Ado About Nothing is generally considered one of Shakespeare’s best comedies, because it combines elements of robust hilarity with more serious meditations on honor, shame, and court politics. Much Ado About Nothing, though interspersed with darker concerns, is a joyful comedy that ends with multiple marriages and no deaths.

Principal photography started mid-October 2011, and took place at Joss Whedon's residence, in Santa Monica, California. On the choice of location, he told Studio 360, "First of all, my wife built that house. And I knew from the moment I set foot in it that I would want to film something there. Because it's all in one place, that place informs the mood and the feeling and the look of the picture so much, and I was really already comfortable with that". It was filmed entirely in a black-and-white palette over a period of 12 days. Whedon shot it while on a contractual vacation from the post-production of The Avengers (2012). The cast and crew were informed to keep the project a secret until production was finished. Shooting wrapped on October 23, 2011. Whedon explained his initial interest in the project, saying: I fixated on this notion that our ideas of romantic love are created for us by the society around us, and then escape from that is grown-up love, is marriage, is mature love, to escape the ideals of love that we’re supposed to follow. He elaborated on that sentiment, and said "It’s a very cynically romantic text about love, and how we behave, and how we’re expected to behave. It’s a party, but there’s something darker there as well".

The film stars Amy Acker as Beatrice, Alexis Denisof as Benedick, Nathan Fillion as Dogberry, Clark Gregg as Leonato, Reed Diamond as Don Pedro, Fran Kranz as Claudio, Sean Maher as Don John, Jillian Morgese as Hero, Spencer Treat Clark as Borachio, Riki Lindhome as Conrade and Ashley Johnson as Margaret. The performances were fantastic in this film and Whedon's finest collection of performances yet. They had the right mix of drama and comedy all at once. Acker gave a strong performance as Beatrice. Denisof gave a witty and 'cocky' performance as Benedick. Fillion gave a humorous performance. Gregg gave a great performance as Leonato. Diamond gave a great performance as Don Pedro. Kranz gave a emotionally fantastic performance as Claudio. Maher gave a great, cold performance as Don John. Finally, Morgese gave a wonderful performance, in her debut film.

Cheerful from beginning to end, Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing is a ravishing piece of entertainment. Whedon has, once again, blown away the movie-going public after his triumphant success of The Avengers (2012). This film cements Whedon's status as a great director of Shakespeare, and perhaps of film in general, as well.

Simon says Much Ado About Nothing receives:

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