Much Ado About Nothing Review
In Much Ado About Nothing, Joss Whedon (director of The Avengers) adapts Shakespeare’s much-beloved comedy and gives it a modern twist. Clad in tuxedos and summer dresses, this modern adaptation has all the ingredients of a screwball comedy from beginning to end. Entirely shot in black and white & set against a backdrop of Italy, this movie consolidates its position as one of the funniest movies ever made.
Leonato, the governor of Messina, is visited by his friend Don Pedro who is returning from a victorious campaign against his rebellious brother Don John. Accompanying Don Pedro are two of his most noteworthy officers: Benedick (Alexis Denisof) and Claudio (Fran Kranz).
While in Messina, Claudio falls head over heels in love with Leonato’s daughter Hero (Jillian Morgese). Meanwhile, Benedick engages in a war of words with Beatrice (Amy Acker), the governor’s niece. The budding love between Claudio and Hero prompts Don Pedro to arrange for their marriage. But his brother Don John decides to tear them apart. What follows next is a dizzying whirlpool of love, comedy, and tragedy in equally terrifying measures.
The Cinematography: The Dazzling Italian Setting
The cinematography of the movie is so aesthetically pleasing that it would have made Shakespeare proud. Shot by Jay Hunter, the movie gives a touching tribute to the romantic comedies of the Golden Era of Hollywood.
The director uses only one location (his own home) for all the action which is perfect to understand the intimate tapestry of lives. The house interiors are sleek & modern which is perfect for a story where everyone is constantly eavesdropping on the other and is propelled by a motive of their own.
The Soundtrack vicariously oscillates between funny to romantic keeping in mind the characters changing dimensions. Penned by Joss Whedon and produced by Deborah Lurie, the soundtrack makes the Italian setting more magical. It also incorporates Shakespeare’s originally written songs “Sigh No More” and “Heavily.”
The Romance between two pairs of couples is as different as fire and ice. Claudio and Hero are besotted with one another and openly profess it. But Beatrice and Benedick are (almost) always entangled in verbal spars, putting a show of indifference towards love and marriage. As the story progresses, Beatrice and Benedick gradually fall in love with each other and ultimately profess it in the most humorous way.
The best part of the romance in this movie is that Beatrice & Benedick are given a backstory as to why they detest one another in the first place, unlike the play. Though there are parallel romances shown in the movie, the verbal sparring and the vicious (sometimes laugh out loud funny) dialogues takes the romance of Beatrice & Benedick several notches higher.
True to its Original Story, this modern adaptation is a fitting tribute to Shakespeare.
In addition to highly talented lead actors, it has one of the best ensemble casts ever to perform a Shakespearean comedy, particularly for fans of the Whedonverse. This movie is helmed by Amy Acker (Angel) as Beatrice and Alexis Denisof (Buffy The Vampire Slayer) as Benedick.
Their chemistry is dazzling and their “merry war” against one another is reminiscent of Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant in The Philadelphia Story. Nathan Fillion (Castle) also shines as Dogberry, the constable in charge of Messina’s Night Watch. His mispronounced dialogues provide great comic relief making the movie thoroughly entertaining. Also in the ensemble is Clark Gregg (The Avengers) as Leonato and Sean Maher(Arrow) as Don Pedro who plays the tormented, conniving brother excellently.
Much Ado about Nothing is genuinely enjoyable as a delightfully spirited romantic comedy.
Shot only in 12 days, Much Ado about Nothing is genuinely enjoyable as a delightfully spirited romantic comedy looking at the post-modern absurdity of love. This movie is also a visual treat to the eyes with its characterization and its Italian setting. Overall, the movie is lighthearted to a fault with its giddy romance and is a feast for all romantic comedy lovers.
Content Note: Rated PG-13 for some sexuality and brief drug use.
Available on: DVD Netflix.
“You had me at hello.”
“You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope.
I have loved none but you.”