Shakespeare’s classic comedy is given a contemporary spin in Joss Whedon’s film, Much Ado About Nothing. Shot in just 12 days (and using the original text), the story of sparring lovers Beatrice and Benedick offers a dark, sexy and occasionally absurd view of the intricate game that is love.
Audiences will remember Kenneth Branagh’s well-received version from 1993, with the cast of stars tumbling and laughing over bright hillsides in Tuscany, dressed in flowing period garb. Whedon takes a different approach. It’s done in modern dress. There are no big stars in it, although fans of Whedon’s films and television series will recognize many of his regulars. He shot in glamorous black-and-white (Jay Hunter was the cinematographer), which may seem like a serious choice for such comedic material until you remember that some of the funniest comedies ever made were filmed in black-and-white. Whedon firmly places “Much Ado About Nothing” in the screwball tradition where it belongs. He uses one main location (his own house), and much of it takes place in echoing high-end interiors, perfect for a story where everyone is constantly eavesdropping on everyone else. The acoustics in the house are very poor for anyone who wants to keep a secret. The adaptation, done by Whedon, is terrific. The play moves from comedy to tragedy and back with dizzying speed, and while you may feel like you’re getting whiplash, that’s the desired effect.
Tickets: $11 per film/ $45 fall pass