My five blog readers might recall that I don’t get to the movies often, not as often as I’d like to. Since I became a mother in 2007, I’ve been averaging fewer than one movie theatre trip per year. (The last one I saw, I believe, was Beasts of the Southern Wild.)
Last night I saw Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing. As a long time fan of all things Joss, I was expecting a lot. But this film surpassed my high hopes. I anticipated a romp, and plenty of Jossy humor. I got those things, but what elevated the experience beyond my hopes was how stylish the production was, and how much depth it had. The light and darkness of the story, illuminated in black and white filmmaking, were equally present and resonant. I am not a purist about Shakespeare, nor am I a scholar, so I can’t catalog the liberties taken. This in mind, I don’t mind adaptations, but please, let them make sense, and let them work. This one did, and did. Joss took liberties–gender-bending, reading sex into places that it might not naturally have been, but it worked. The wine-at-all-hours, casual glitz garden party was such an escape, such a vacation from my everyday life which contains real things like gravity that I can still feel it in my bones as if I was there, hanging with that wit and language and drink, plot-twisting alongside those indie-iconic actors. One layer of decadence for this fan was seeing where Joss lives–the film was shot at his home. One imagines the proto-productions when King J. and his friends got together to read some Shakespeare. (She typed, and swooned…)
(Ten years hence, one asks, Branaugh who? Okay, that was a cheap shot. Apologies. I liked that film, too.)
On a larger level, I love how this film might introduce Shakespeare to people who haven’t gotten there yet. It makes the play accessible, but not in a dumbed-down way. To my eye, it makes the play sexy and relevant. A shiny hipster debauch, once more, with feeling. We could do much worse! See if it you can.