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Much Ado About Nothing - Review

Much Ado About Nothing

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

JOSS Whedon has said that his hopes for Much Ado About Nothing were two-fold: that he make a film that could appeal to those who perhaps weren’t so familiar with Shakespeare’s work and to show those who were that he knew what he was doing. Well, mission accomplished.

A passion project for the director, this was shot in just 12 days at his own home as a holiday project following his exploits on The Avengers.

As hellish a schedule as that sounds, Whedon insists that it also served the ensuing production well by virtue of the fact that it encouraged spontaneity from his cast, most of whom are Whedon regulars.

And this is true to a certain extent. His feel captures a certain live feel, even though it looks cinematic (shot beautifully as it is in black and White). The performances feel fresh and immediate, almost as though they have been captured rather than created. It lends the film an urgency befitting the frantic nature of this particular Bard play.

Much Ado takes place at the wedding of young lovers Claudio (Frank Kranz) and Hero (Jilian Morgese), as family friends attempt to trick sparring friends Benedick (Alexis Denisof) and Beatrice (Amy Acker) into realising their true feelings for each other.

Needless to say, this doesn’t go according to plan and there are plenty of bumps on the road to true love.
As light and frothy as Shakespeare’s source material is, there are also dark subtexts that give it’s players plenty to seek their teeth into. And Whedon’s game cast grab their opportunities, aided by direction that allows each their moment to shine.

As a result, there’s fun to be had in seeing how Whedon uses his regulars while giving a contemporary feel to the story without altering the Shakespearean prose. He does so with aplomb, as only a true admirer of the Bard would.

Performance-wise, Denisof is suitably charismatic and likeable as Benedick and Acker near-perfect as his foil, both smart and fallible.

Morgese also shines as Hero (fully repaying Whedon’s faith in her to handle some of the weightier material) and Kranz plays well alongside her (furthering the scene-stealing work he did in Cabin In The Woods).

There’s also notable support from Clark Gregg as Leonato ( riffing smartly on the authority he brings to his Marvel roles) and Nathan Fillion, relishing his opportunity to clown around as Dogberry.

But then there’s not much to dislike about this endearing enterprise, which has been done with utmost affection by cast and director. The sense that everyone was having fun is infectious.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 108mins
UK Release Date: June 14, 2013