by R.C. Samo
Producers Joss Whedon and Kai Cole, have taken Shakespeare’s classic Much Ado About Nothing, and have placed it in the post-modern era. Shot in only 12 days at Whedon’s residency and using the original script, Much Ado has charm, wit and a warm embrace of yesteryear.
For this one, Whedon’s directorial style seemed to have been inspired by 1960s French films, with its beautiful shadowing, long, silent introduction and the power of facial expressions conveying their emotions. A marvelous addition to the film was the original score composed by Whedon, which set a tone like none that I can remember in American cinema.
Those that read the cliff notes in high school, missed out on the story of Leonato (Clark Gregg), the governor of Messina, who is visited by his friend Don Pedro (Reed Diamond) after a victorious campaign against his rebellious brother Don John (Sean Maher). Accompanying Don Pedro are two of his officers: Benedick (Alexis Denisof) and Claudio (Fran Kranz). While in Messina, Claudio falls for Leonato’s daughter Hero (Jillian Morgese), all the while Benedick verbally spars with the governor’s niece, Beatrice (Amy Acker). The impetuous romance between Claudio and Hero prompts Don Pedro to arrange with Leonato for the two youths to be wed in a weeks time.
In the days leading up to the ceremony, Don Pedro, with the help of Leonato, Claudio and Hero, concoct a plan playing to the egos of Benedick and Beatrice, tricking the prideful pair into falling in love. All-the-while, the villainous Don John, with the help of his allies: Conrade (Riki Lindhome) and Borachio (Spencer Treat Clark), plot against the happy, youthful couple, using his own form of skullduggery in trying to destroy the betrothed relationship.
The sexual tension, as well as physical comedy between Denisof and Acker was beyond superb, while Dogberry (Nathan Fillion) and Verges (Tom Lenk), were the ideal comic relief. The actors who stole the movie were Kranz and Morgese. They engulfed themselves within these characters and truly brought them to life.
In all honesty, it did take about half an hour to get past the California accent reciting Shakespearean English. However, if you can get past the under annunciation due to the modern pronunciation and focus on the cinematography, Much Ado About Nothing is well worth your $12 and opens in theaters Friday, June 7, 2013.