Much Ado About Nothing
Autumn 2013 Features series
Sunday, September 22, 2013 at 4:00pm
Sunday, September 22, 2013 at 7:00pm
Directed by Joss Whedon
Screenplay by Joss Whedon
Based on the play by William Shakespeare
Starring Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Fran Kranz, and Nathan Fillion
Rated 14A ·
Much Ado About Nothing
A Shakespeare adaptation may seem an odd project for writer, director and producer Joss Whedon, master of cult television (Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and superhero megahits (The Avengers). But Whedon, with his knack for inspired comedic repartee, proves to be well suited for the challenge, delivering an inventive, modern-day version of one of the Bard’s most beloved plays.
Filmed in Whedon’s own Santa Monica home during a brief break from The Avengers, this new Ado is a devilishly sharp celebration of banter and flirtation, unruly plots and unlikely romance, and was clearly a passion project for all involved. Trading quill pens and horses for smartphones and limousines, Whedon deftly handles the multiple storylines, each one rife with political intrigue, matchmaking schemes and romantic misunderstandings. Playing up the physical comedy and sharply delivered barbs is an impressive ensemble cast—a combination of trained Shakespeareans and notable members of Whedon’s unofficial stock company. Amy Acker (Cabin in the Woods, Angel) and Alexis Denisof (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) shine, briskly exchanging a “merry war” of insults as feuding lovers Beatrice and Benedick, and Nathan Fillion (Castle, Firefly) is a particular standout as the hapless Dogberry.
With its flat-out gorgeous black-and-white cinematography, stellar cast and breakneck pace, Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing holds a unique appeal. Fans of the masterwork will find all the pleasures of the original, while audiences of all stripes will enjoy this fresh spin on high comedy by one of today’s greatest showrunners.
“Within the first 10 minutes I found myself smiling with excitement, while also holding my breath in nervous anxiety. Would the film be able to sustain its confident manic tone, maintain its humor and smarts, its depth of characterization and innovative use of text and landscape? Would the magic hold? The magic holds. It holds from beginning to end. Much Ado About Nothing is one of the best films of the year.” (Sheila O’Malley, RogerEbert.com)
“Whedon appears to have approached the project with no agenda beyond a love for Shakespeare and his works. This is an unshowy, workmanlike production that doesn’t puff out its chest to proclaim its own importance. Acker and Denisof spar with each other in the best traditions of screwball comedy; worthy modern equivalents to Tracy and Hepburn. They’re the main source of joy in a film overflowing with treats.” (David Gritten, The Telegraph)