We’re on a black and white theme this week, so I used it as an excuse to finally check out Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing (2012). It’s one of those adaptations that use Shakespearean language but has modern setting and costumes. I feel like moving Shakespeare’s plays into modern times is startlingly easy to do and helps give me a new level of understanding for the words.
Joss Whedon shot this movie in just 12 days, while also working on The Avengers, like a palette-cleaning sorbet during a big, disgusting meal. He shot it in his own home in lieu of taking an anniversary trip with his wife – apparently with her consent.
This play is actually a soap opera. The premise is completely ridiculous – one dude spurns his fiancée at the altar because of an unconfirmed piece of third-hand gossip, which leads the jilted bride to fake her death to exact revenge, while another dude is tricked into falling in love with a woman he claims to hate after being flattered for about half an hour. Double wedding! As much as I may poke fun of it, the words themselves are just beautiful, and brilliant. A particular favourite snippet of mine: “He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man. He that is more than a youth is not for me, and he that is less than a man, I am not for him.”
I enjoyed this movie. Clark Gregg was a stand-out for me, and Nathan Fillion acquitted himself quite well and actually injects some funny into what Shakespeare intended as a comedy. Alexis Denisof, however, seemed like he was in way over his head. With so many words fighting a war of attrition inside his mouth, I just couldn’t relax into this movie.
I can see the allure of this stripped-down black and white piece after the Marvel smorgasbord The Avengers and I think Whedon is a wonderfully versatile director. I just didn’t enjoy this one half as much as I enjoyed Kenneth Branagh’s 1992 version starring Emma Thompson, and I suggest you check that one out instead.