Much Ado About Nothing
15 minutes into this, I was cringing and ready to turn it off (I didn’t). Where was my faith in Joss Whedon?
I’ll tell you: the thing I love about Whedon is how he writes, and how he had his characters deliver the lines he writes. So, as much as people were saying that Whedon and Shakespeare were a perfect match, I just didn’t really believe that. I felt like it was kind of taking Whedon’s strengths away from him.
One thing I wasn’t taking into account was the “Hush” episode in “Buffy The Vampire Slayer.” I wasn’t remembering just how well Whedon gets his actors to express feelings even when they’re not saying anything.
And this is where he really, really adds something to Shakespeare. After the first 15 or 20 minutes, which truly are just deadly dull, the actors start to use their physicality to express the comedy and the feeling behind Shakespeare’s words, and they do it VERY well. They’re funny and they pause at just the right times in the dialogue and their facial expressions and gestures are just right to help us know what they mean and to move the story and the words along. There are a couple of wonderful set pieces (when Benedick is “overhearing” the Beatrice loves him, and when we’re introduced to the police– actually, anything with the police) that are fantastic examples of timing and physical comedy. Yeah, Whedon pulled it off.
I also liked that he figured out a way to register disgust with a racist line in the play while still keeping that line in the movie (although I felt conflicted… it also highlighted the fact that basically everyone in the movie is white), and I was very happy to see Mikey Kellerman, who I felt really understood how the dialogue needed to be delivered.
I still wouldn’t say Whedon and Shakespeare are a perfect match… I don’t actually love Shakespeare that much so I’d kind of just prefer to watch something Whedon wrote himself. That said, if I have to watch Shakespeare, let’s just have Joss Whedon direct it from now on.
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