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Much Ado About Nothing (2013)

Josh Reviews Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing

November 14th, 2013
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After making The Avengers, Joss Whedon got a bunch of his friends and frequent collaborators together and, over 12 days and working in and around his own house, shot a black-and-white adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.  I missed this when it was very briefly released in theatres this past summer, but had a copy in my hands the week it came out on DVD.  What a delightful, joy-filled film!  This is a magnificent adaptation — a wonderfully funny, dramatic, and romantic concoction.

I must admit that Much Ado About Nothing has never been one of my favorite Shakespeare plays.  I always find myself far more interested in his tragedies and histories than I am in his comedies.  But under Joss Whedon’s hand this story of love and deceit comes to life, and I was quickly rather completely enraptured by the story being told.

The great joy of the film is seeing so many familiar televison faces (almost all of them from various Joss Whedon shows) doing Shakespeare.  And they are all, to the last, extraordinarily impressive!!

The two leads, Beatrice and Benedick, are played by Amy Acker (Angel and Dollhouse) and Alexis Denisof (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Dollhouse), and both are marvelous, easily carrying the weight of these major roles.  Ms. Acker is a great beauty and a fiercely talented actor, someone who well-deserves to be the lead in LOTS of movies. She is particularly nimble with the dialogue, and her performance of the “if only I were a man” speech is powerful.  Alexis Denisof is equally engaging.  I was particularly impressed by how well he was able to play the comedic side of the rcharacter.  The scene in which he preens himself outside, doing all sorts of outlandish stretches in an effort to impress Beatrice, is one of the biggest laughs in the film.

There are an incredible number of talented performers in the film, each of whom shines in many different ways.  I was particularly impressed with Reed Diamond’s work as Don Pedro.  I was immediately taken by how facile Mr. Diamond was with the dialogue.  It’s extraordinarily impressive how well he was able to speak the words and to bring their meaning to life, in an incredibly naturalistic way.  (Watching the special features, it turns out he went to Juilliard and has been waiting his whole life to have an opportunity to play Shakespeare.  Well done, sir, you hit this one out of the park.)

I was also extremely taken by Nathan Fillion and Tom Lenk’s work as the bumbling inspector pair Dogberry and Verges.  The two men are HILARIOUS together, a terrific comedy team.  Nathan Fillion doesn’t seem quite as … [continued]