Much Ado About Nothing (2013) Review
By Lorraine Hirakawa / June 30

Ingredients: If you like the quirkiness of 10 Things I Hate about You, the Shakespearean language of Much Ado About Nothing (1993), and have a special affinity for low budget films, then you will like this movie.

Let me begin by saying I am a self-confessed Joss Whedon fan, and when I saw Whedon on The Colbert Report talking about his latest creative endeavor, a remake of Much Ado About Nothing, I scoffed at his ability to top Kenneth Brannagh and Emma Thompson as the sharp tongued besotted lovers.  However, I have to say that Whedon did not disappoint.

Here’s what Whedon had going for him, aside from the fact that the entire set is actually his own house in twelve days, he had a great cast, an eye for artistic shots, and he had Nathan Fillion as Dogberry.

Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof were not only convincing as their witty characters, but Acker was absolutely charming.  She oozed charisma on the screen, even when she was doing the ridiculous slapstick.  She delivers every Shakespearean insult with timing and tone, both funny and flaying.   Denisof is not quite that kind of heavy hitter, but what he lacks in delivery, he makes up for in slapstick appeal and facial expressions.

The supporting cast is understated but superb. Sean Maher as John “the Bastard” and Reed Diamond, Don Pedro, are exceptionally cast and also have appropriately evil/regal (respectively) personas that are memorable and creative. Fran Kranz (Claudio) and Jillian Morgese (Hero) are admirable as the young lovers in the film, and Clark Gregg (Leonato) was surprisingly clever and poised playing a Shakespearean role.  Perhaps my favorite character was the delightfully malaprop – ladenned Dogberry played exceptionally well by Nathan Fillion.  Fillion delivers ridiculous line after ridiculous line with a straight face and prim mannerism that makes the lines even funnier.

Finally, I must mention the cinematography. Shot in black and white with relatively simple 35mm, and in only 12 days, Whedon makes this film beautiful to look at.  Close ups of small details, like napkins being set on plates and lots of shot glasses being filled, juxtaposed against frames that put big strong men wedged between doll houses and stuffed animals create some of the ridiculousness that delights the audience, even when they don’t understand the Shakespearean bantering coming out of the mouths of the actors.

So, while I was in doubt about Whedon’s ability to pay homage to one of my favorite Shakespearean comedies, I have to confess that really the movie is simply charming.  If you are ready to just absorb the language and let it accent the action, Much Ado is for you.

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