Friday, July 5, 2013

Film Review: "Much Ado About Nothing"

Shakespeare Meets “The Bachelor”

by James Hess

The works of William Shakespeare are rarely adapted into other mediums like film or television. One such work, however, has crossed the line into a world that can almost be compared to television programs such as “Desperate Housewives” or “Jersey Shore”.  

“Much Ado About Nothing” (at least this adaptation of it) is a story of romance, deceit, and humor in one movie. It is based on William Shakespeare’s 15th century play concerning two people, a man and a woman, with different positions on love and romance. For those unfamiliar with this story it goes like this: Don John (Sean Maher) plots to ruin Officer Claudio’s (Fran Kranz) wedding out of revenge for losing a dispute with him. He uses his own two allies, Boachio (Spencer Treat Clark) and Conrade (Riki Londhome), to deceive them both of infidelity against the other. Don John does this in the hopes that the marriage will break up before it begins. 

In the midst of this, Don Pedro’s other officer, Benedick (Alex Denisof) tries to sweet-talk his way into the heart of Beatrice (Amy Acker), the Governor’s niece. The wacky events and treachery in this movie can leave the viewer wondering what will happen to both happy couples. We can only assume that love will prevail or hearts will be broken.  

As far as the movie itself goes when compared to Shakespeare’s story, director Joss Whedon has done a wonderful job at bringing the 15th century into a modern setting. The Governor’s castle can be compared to King Arthur’s in the original play, but the newest adaptation brings the humor and treachery into a Latin-influenced California mansion (which in reality is the director’s house). The costume designs are all well done dressing the characters to emulate upper class fashion of the original play. 

Most importantly, the characters all throw a party like they did in the original play, but what separates this from Shakespeare’s version are the music, dancing and drinking games that play out. Excessive drinking as well as skinny dipping is shown and even drinking games involving cards and apples are shown. Much of these things are what some would not have dared talked about in Shakespeare’s time. 

There is even a lovemaking (non-graphic) scene between Borachio and Hero’s bridesmaid Margaret (Ashley Johnson). Something like this would have sparked a national outcry in Shakespeare’s England, but we in America have come a long way in terms of what we can tolerate and what we can’t on the big screen. 

For your average moviegoer, this movie requires at least three or five more viewings before one can completely understand this film’s significance. The dialogue is kept as close to the original Shakespearean tongues as possible (parallel to 1998’s “Romeo and Juliet”) so your modern American would have a tough time understanding some of the dialogue, whether or not they have read Biblical texts which display the same linguistics. So if you do not understand Shakespearean style English, you might want to think twice before paying $6 to $10 to see this. 

Otherwise though, if you are an avid lover of Shakespearean folklore, then “Much Ado about Nothing” is your perfect Saturday night treat!

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