After loosing touch with William Shakespeare after my years as a college English major (I’ve read Hamlet far too many times to count). I’ve recently been reopening communication with the Bard’s classic works, thanks to some of the incredibly interesting film and stage versions popping up around the world.
I recently sat down to re watch the Joss Whedon labor of love version of Much Ado About Nothing, which the film-maker and general renaissance man completed in a brief respite between his Marvel responsibilities in 2012. The film, which stars Whedon acolytes like Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Clark Gregg (and others) is a treat to watch on every level, showing why Joss Whedon is one of the smartest and most versatile film-makers working in Hollywood today.
The film was shot with an uber low-budget, with a cast and crew of friends and family, working with a break-neck shooting schedule. Most of the sets are actually in and around the Whedon household. The film, which was a labor of love for many involved, gives no impression of the shoestring budget.
Much Ado About Nothing is shot entirely in black and white (a definite rarity in modern Hollywood). Whedon and his crew manage to create some stunning visuals. They make a stunning use of the gorgeous California sunshine, allowing a number of the sequences to quite literally glow with life. A glitzy nighttime party sequence reverberates with subtle energy, allowing the work of the brilliant cast and crew to shine without the help of the Hollywood tricks allowed by a bigger budget. It’s a truly beautiful film to watch, showing no sign of its simplicity.
The cast (made up of Whedon acolytes and disciples), are completely at ease with the (what I can only imagine as) challenging Shakespearian dialogue, and shine in their respective roles. For this writer, Fran Kranz is a particular stand-out as Claudio. The actor has been gaining traction thanks to roles in Whedon’s (tragically short-lived) sci-fi drama Dollhouse, as well as the Whedon produced horror (satire?) Cabin in the Woods. He brings a wide-eyed youthfulness to the role of Claudio, seemingly effortlessly portraying the wide scope of emotions needed for the part. Amy Acker is also shines throughout the entire film as Beatrice, but reaches another level of brilliance in a powerful rendition of the “If I Were a Man” speech. However, these are but two in the large cast of talented and versatile performers.
Fans of the works of Joss Whedon, as well as fans of the immortal works of Shakespeare should definitely check out Much Ado About Nothing. The filmed version of the story playfully injects Whedon’s flare into the age-old tale.
My Verdict: 5/5 stars