It would be an understatement to say I am a huge fan of Joss Whedon. Buffy The Vampire Slayer is one of my favourite all time shows, and I am always excited when a new Joss Whedon project comes out. So when I heard he was making a black and white version of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing (filmed in 12 days during a break from The Avengers) using a load of actors from various other Whedon projects I could not wait to see it. But how will he do without his trademark snappy script?
The main plot follows Beatrice (Amy Acker) and Benedict (Alexis Denisof) , two people who would make a great couple if only they didn’t hate each other. The subplot revolves around Beatrice’s cousin Hero (Jillian Morgese) and Benedict’s friend Claudio (Fran Kranz) who fall madly and quickly in love but fall foul of the evil Don John (Sean Maher) in a complicated plot against his brother Prince Don Pedro (Reed Dimond).
Much Ado about Nothing has such a fun playful feeling with some snappy insults between characters that suits director Whedon well. It also allows him to show his skill as a director as he expertly manages his cast, most of whom have been coming to Whedon’s house for years to perform readings of Shakespeare’s plays. He stages all of the film at his own house (built by his wife Kai Cole) and uses the setting perfectly. He is also able to transition easily between the funnier scenes and the dramatic ones.
The acting is brilliant. The leads Acker and Denisof throw their all into their barbed insults while also displaying the vulnerability of the characters. They both also handle the physical comedy well, adding some slapstick humour to the proceedings.
The rest of the cast is excellent so it’s difficult to pick any stand outs, though it’s nice to see Fran Kranz who normally plays the comic relief in films like Cabin In The Woods and Dollhouse to show his versatility in playing a more romantic role. Fan favourite Nathan Fillion also gives a hilarious turn as Dogberry-the incompetent man in charge of the Night Watch.
As this film was on a limited release in cinemas it took me a while to find a place to watch it, but I am so happy I did. You don’t need to be a fan of Whedon or Shakespeare to watch this film, just a fan of good cinema.
Don’t be put off by it being in black and white, this brilliant adaptation deserves to be seen