Shakespeare's intertwined love polygons begin to get complicated from the start--Demetrius and Lysander both want Hermia but she only has eyes for Lysander. Bad news is, Hermia's father wants Demetrius for a son-in-law. On the outside is Helena, whose unreturned love burns hot for Demetrius. Hermia and Lysander plan to flee from the city under cover of darkness but are pursued by an enraged Demetrius (who is himself pursued by an enraptured Helena). In the forest, unbeknownst to the mortals, Oberon and Titania (King and Queen of the faeries) are having a spat over a servant boy. The plot twists up when Oberon's head mischief-maker, Puck, runs loose with a flower which causes people to fall in love with the first thing they see upon waking. Throw in a group of labourers preparing a play for the Duke's wedding (one of whom is given a donkey's head and Titania for a lover by Puck) and the complications become fantastically funny. Written by
This is a wonderful film and an excellent version of the classic that was done so very, very well in 1935 and 1968. No, this is not the Royal Shakespeare Company, it's Hollywood but damn good Hollywood. Why? How can canned commercial movie-making compete with the Bard's best? Why does this version make that of the RSC three years before PALE? Well, there's the cast, for one. Stanley Tucci is delightful as a drole erring Puck carrying out the directives of Rupert Everett's pompous Oberon. The delightful Cast of Players, including Rockwell, Irwin, Rees, Wright and (tah-DAH!) Kevin Klein as Bottom. The scenes with the lovelier than lovely Michelle Pfeiffer's Titania are wonderful and poignant. It is delightful to see that gentle erotica can be suggested without nudity or slathering tongues, sucking lips as well as the usual grunts-pants-moans, etc. The lovers are likewise delightful with great, fun-packed performances by Christian Bale's Demetrius and Dominic West's Lysander in complete tune with Anna Fiel's Hermia and Calista Flockhart's Helena. Even David Strathairn's Theseus and Sophie Marceau's Hippolyta are wonderful. The story is moved from Athens Greece to Athens, Italy, at the turn of the 19th century with the lovers escaping on bicycles. Stanley Tucci's confrontation with the bike is a delight. This is a wonderful film with some new twists that depart from but do not detract from the Bard. The bit with Kevin Kline's wife, hard-looking but attractive Heather Parisi, works well with the setting of this fun-filled, joyful presentation.
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