In every review I encountered about this film, I saw two constants: this film was done in twelve days at the house of Joss Whedon and the cast are all friends of Joss Whedon and are can be seen in other works that he has created. Both of these facts bore me and seem irrelevant to the review of the film at hand. Yes it gave a momentary delight to recognize the guy playing Benedick was Wesley from Buffy but me knowing this didn’t make me like the performance any more than I already did. So please allow me to toss both of these facts out the window and carry on with this review.
There are two sets of couples in Much Ado About Nothing. One couple involves a young woman, Hero, who is betrothed to a prince of a neighboring country (or business as this movie implies). They have come to Hero’s home in order to prepare for marriage. This prince is easily swayed by the evil brother of his king. He is led to think that Hero is not faithful to him. He denounces Hero at their wedding ceremony and fights his emotions before he is told the truth. Another couple (the more interesting one in my opinion) is Benedick and Beatrice. They are both too witty for their own good and pretend to hate each other. At separate points in the play, they both denounce marriage as a viable option in their lives. The rest of the company decides to play a trick on them and let them over hear that the other is in love with them. This of course makes them realize that they are in love with each other.
Shakespeare is perhaps the first manic comedy storyteller. The action is so fast and the words so dry and full of double meanings, that you almost get whiplash while these actors are reciting their lines. But this effect makes you become so enveloped in the storyline that you find yourself adjusting to the speed pretty quickly. This manic pace needs great actors and a great director to fully realize its potential. Both Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker (who play Benedick and Beatrice) deliver the dialogue like they were born to do it. They affect such an ease with their laborious and complicated lines that it is hard not to fall in love with their characters. Unfortunately not every actor elicits such rapture. For instance the actor who plays Hero sort of stumbles over her lines if she is given more than a couple to recite at a time. I do admit that Hero is kind of dull character to play, but the energy I felt with Beatrice and Benedick is somewhat deflated when she is around.
I found this film to be a pleasant adaptation. I had fun watching this film which is hard to say when watching other adaptations of Shakespeare’s harder plays. Joss proves again and again that he is a masterful storyteller and he is capable of doing smaller films as well as huge epics. I hope that he makes another film as pleasant as this one was.