Much-Ado-About Nothing - website

much ado about whedon?

Arts Correspondent, Duana Forrest, reviews Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing, screened by the Roe Valley Community Film Society on 8 October 2013. 

It takes a brave man to tackle a black and white film, and an even braver man to tackle a Shakespeare adaptation… Queue the brave or harebrained Joss Whedon.

When presented with a contractual break, you would instinctively take that break and run to the nearest tropical island. However director Joss Whedon decided that during his two week contractual break from the post production of ‘The Avengers’, he and his wife would take on a project of their own, thus ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ was rapidly spun into action.

Based on the well-known comedic play by William Shakespeare, Whedon developed the story into a visually beautiful film.

Whedon does not stray far from the play. It follows the uniting of two very different couples; Claudio and Hero along with her cousin Beatrice and Benedict, at the home of the much respected Leonato (Clark Gregg), Hero’s father.  The pure and fair maiden Hero (Jillian Morgese) instantly captures the heart of Claudio (Fran Kranz) whereas the equally charming and confident Beatrice and Benedict partake in a battle of the wits. Both as stubborn and fiercely defiant against marriage, they are given a playful nudge in the right direction which leads to one of the most comedic scenes in a Shakespeare piece.  And, as with every good play, there must be a counterbalance in characters, and Don Jon fills this post nicely. While he is not a murderous villain, his plotting and scheming to ruin Hero’s good name results in a series of unconventional events. 

As with most of Shakespeare’s writing the focus is drama. While it does touch upon dramatic themes, Much Ado About Nothing is a hilarious delight amidst the death and tragedy showcased throughout his more serious plays. The playfulness between Claudio and Benedict in the beginning as well as the amusing ruse to bring Beatrice and Benedict together is a no brainer in bringing the audience to a sincere laughter.

Whedon heavily relies on a clever and pre-written plot and practical camera direction rather than experimenting and the black and white infused with a modern take gives a refreshing but sometimes confusing outcome. Regardless, he does show fearlessness in his directing – there is no hesitation in going for the over dramatic visual comedy to accentuate the dialogue and takes on the role of beautifully scoring the movie.

Anyone familiar with Whedon’s work will know that he frequently returns to actors that he has previously worked with, so it is no surprise that Much Ado About Nothing features a familiar cast. Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof flawlessly and hysterically convey the much loved characters Beatrice and Benedict, adapting to the Shakespearian English with effortless poise while Fran Kranz also lends a strong hand in playing the fiercely distraught and grieving Claudio.

While it may not be the most exciting directorial film, the strong cast, idyllic setting, and underlying themes of betrayal and grief amidst the comedic outrageousness create a film full of authenticity and charisma while still capturing the heart and soul of Shakespeare’s writing.

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This entry was posted on October 11th, 2013 at 1:44 pm by Desima

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