2012, Movies

Much Ado About Nothing (2012, Joss Whedon)

This is great.

Every so often you watch a Shakespeare adaptation that reminds you of the possibilities yet to be explored. Filmed at his house, Whedon’s version of Much Ado About Nothing is a fresh and fun spin on a play that I associate way too much with Kenneth Branaugh’s version. The location provides a lot of opportunity for additional humour and it gives the whole thing a a sense of believability if you pretend they’re not talking about Italy and pretend it’s a modern backyard wedding.

I like the cast, some actors I know and some I don’t given more screen time than most of them would normally get. I feel like this is an underused concept, throwing contemporary film actors into a Shakespeare play in a weird location and seeing what they can do. It feels like a recipe for future adaptations if anyone would take the inspiration.

The decision to shoot in a home is probably the best part, it gives the whole thing a modern feel but, as I alluded to above, adds some opportunities for comedy not in the actual script. The scenes with Benedick and Beatrice eavesdropping are the funniest in the movie, with some great physical comedy using the limited opportunity.

I’m just left wondering why more people don’t try weird stuff like this with Shakespeare. It feels like there was a time in the ’90s when adaptations were strange and idiosyncratic and now we mostly get adaptations that are set in the past. Maybe I haven’t watched enough recent adaptations. But this one is fun and creative and feels inventive despite the limitations of the locations.


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