|Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker|
I was exceptionally lucky to get to see this film adaptation of Shakespeare's comedy ahead of its general, albeit small, three-city release on June 7th, thanks to a screening at the SF Film Festival. Whedon fans have been salivating over rumors of the project -- which was shot in just two weeks, in modern dress, in black and white, at Joss' own home -- for what seems like years, and still I didn't expect the line to be so epic that despite having advance tickets, we ended up in the last row of the balcony. Actually, it was fantastic to see the Whedon fanbase turn out in such force for Shakespeare (two great things that go great together!), and there was a palpable buzz in the air the moment we got on line.
While it's hard to top Kenneth Branagh's gorgeous 1993 period production, Joss and his fantastic cast of familiar Whedonverse faces have surely benefited from any anxiety of influence: at the risk of sounding like a cheeseball, I left the theater with a magical smile on my face and a warm fuzzy in my heart, which as you may know is not like me at all. I don't want to spoil the story for anyone (can you spoil something that's standard reading in many a literature class?), so I'll settle for spending some time praising the (almost) uniformly excellent cast, many of whom had little or no Shakespearean theater under their belts.
|Tom Lenk and Nathan Fillion|
|Jillian Morgese (as the largely silent Hero), Clark Gregg and Amy Acker|
To the point: "Much Ado" is a joyous stunner, alight with dreamy cinematography, subtle sight-gags, and sharply comic moments when the action takes a beat to highlight certain, um, difficulties with The Bard's not-always politically correct text. So, if you live in San Francisco, New York, or L.A. get thee to the theater on June 7th so the movie makes a splash big enough for wide release. You don't even have to be a Whedonist to enjoy it . . . although it wouldn't hurt to brush up on your Shakespeare.
|Sean Maher, Spencer Treat Clark, Fran Krantz and Riki Lindhome|