A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Much Ado About Nothing (1993)

May 15, 2010

Much Ado About Nothing (1993)

This movie has its flaws. And yet I enjoy it an awful lot. Branagh has imbued the movie with a sense of joy and revelry from the very opening credits (and their extensive nudity.) The delightful banter between Beatrice and Benedick is marvelously well captured It’s hard to say who gives the better performance; Emma Thompson gives soul to a character who is defined by her sharp frivolity, but Kenneth Branagh has a great knack for taking these convoluted Shakespearean speeches and make them human and believable. It makes for some great fun, some laughs.

My favorite parts of the movie are any parts when Beatrice or Benedick are on screen. I still laugh at the scene where Leonato, Claudio and Pedro attempt to ensnare Benedick into love. It’s so well staged and overblown. It doesn’t directly break the fourth wall, but it winks to the audience. The movie doesn’t ask you to take seriously the idea that Benedick would fall for so obvious a trick – instead it delights in the farce of it.

Sadly, however, there is no doubt who gives the worst performance. Keanu Reeves is entirely unable to play the part of Count John. The role as written is sort of an evil Puck. A trickster who delights in creating strife. Or maybe more a petty version of Richard III. He desires to do cause misery in others only because it is the winter of his discontent. I do enjoy Keanu when he is in his element. This, sadly, is not it. It robs the movie of power that the only real villain in the movie is a block of wood. I’m not saying that the movie needs a serious evildoer – rather that it is robbed of some joy that you get no sense that John gets joy from his evildoing.

Also, and I know this will be one of those rare moments that my review diverges from Amanda’s, I do not enjoy the antics of Michael Keaton as the Constable. His performance is so utterly strange and over the top. I’m not sure why I really enjoy the farce of earlier scenes, but his performance grates on me. Maybe it’s that he is so abrasive in his depiction of the character. Again, it seems to me that the potential of the character as written doesn’t match with the performance on screen. The Constable is a character full of comic potential. A doddering silly fool. And yet I wince a little inside whenever he is on screen.

I’ll admit that both of these instances are only in my own perception. Particularly Michael Keaton’s role is performed for laughs, even if it doesn’t get any from me. I feel that there is some greater comedy buried in the words that might have resulted in a different interpretation, but that’s one of the fun things about film adaptations of established works like this – they can be interpreted in so many different ways. (I fully intend to watch three or four Hamlets back to back later in the project to better explore this very concept. If Amanda will agree to undergo such a feat.)

Still – the movie easily overcomes any flaws that I might perceive in it and rises above it all. Literally, in fact, with one of my favorite tracking shots morphing seamlessly into a huge crane shot that pulls up above the capering celebration below in a sublime moment of genius film making. It never fails to bring tears of joy to my eyes. I cannot deny that I truly love this movie. It turns all my sounds of woe to “Hey nonny nonny!”

May 15, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , ,

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