Joss Whedon brings Shakespeare to the big screen
“Much Ado About Nothing” is a quick-witted, low budget, independent film based on Shakespeare’s classic comedy. Directed, produced and adapted for the screen by Joss Whedon (“The Avengers,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”), this film was shot entirely in black and white and is a beautiful, passionate work of art.
With the exception of one line, the film follows Shakespeare’s play word for word. The actors speak entirely in Elizabethan while acting entirely in a modern-day atmosphere. The blend seems to come naturally and the mix is seemingly perfect.
“Much Ado About Nothing” follows two couples that have very different ideas about love. Leonato (Clark Gregg) welcomes a prince and a few soldiers into his home after a war. One of the soldiers, Claudio (Fran Kranz), quickly falls in love with Leonato’s daughter Hero (Jillian Morgese); they decide to get married. In the days before the wedding, the household decides to play a game. After hearing Benedick (Alexis Denisof), a soldier, and Leonato’s niece, Beatrice (Amy Acker), constantly fight, they decide to help them fall in love with each other. The story is a blend of romance, comedy and tragedy.
“Much Ado” is so low budget that the entire film takes place in Whedon’s house in Santa Monica, California. The large Spanish style home is the perfect setting; there is enough diversity that the audience doesn’t get cabin fever. It took less than two weeks to shoot and Whedon did it all while making “The Avengers.”
The entire film is in black and white, which really sets the mood for a 1950s slapstick comedy, which it seems to be modeled after. The shots are beautiful; there are a lot of scattered lights, which the black and white really complement.
“Much Ado” is very well-done and well-adapted for the screen. Although Shakespeare’s dialogue may take an analysis to understand, the acting does the job for you. The acting is clear and complements the dialogue, which is witty, fast-paced and entertaining.
Whedon assembled a cast from other projects he has been involved with, such as “Cabin in the Woods,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Firefly.” Even though it’s not an all-star cast, the acting is what makes the film so enjoyable. Shakespeare film adaptations are always in danger of being level and unexciting but the “Much Ado” actors make it work; the film runs smoothly and makes sense. The situational comedy is on point and the actors really complement each other.
“Much Ado About Nothing” will be playing in the CFAC on Oct. 25 at 8 p.m.