7.3/10
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14 user 3 critic

Twelfth Night, or What You Will (1988)

| Comedy, Drama, Romance | TV Movie
A noblewoman disguises herself as a young man and falls for her employer, a lovesick count. Unfortunately, the count's beloved falls for the disguised noblewoman and a comedy of unrequited love and mistaken identities ensues.

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A noblewoman disguises herself as a young man and falls for her employer, a lovesick count. Unfortunately, the count's beloved falls for the disguised noblewoman and a comedy of unrequited love and mistaken identities ensues.

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Comedy | Drama | Romance

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Trivia

The Shakespearean ballad performed by Feste - "Come Away Death" - borrows an adapted melody from Paul McCartney's song "Once Upon A Long Ago". McCartney graciously donated the melody of his song for Kenneth Branagh's original stage production of Twelfth Night, performed by the Renaissance Theatre Company, and allowed the melody to be used in the film version. See more »

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Version of Macbeth Unhinged (2016) See more »

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Better than Nunn, but BBC is still best
28 September 2008 | by See all my reviews

"Twelfth Night" continues to reveal delights with every re-acquaintance. It is warm, sympathetic, funny, wise, theatrically canny and occasionally dangerous.

This particular version of the play is chamber Shakespeare, based on a fairly intimate theatrical production. It is not particularly outstanding in any way, but it works. The old Shakespeare magic culminating in the final scene builds and releases as it should, and that is the ultimate test.

The cast is good, just good, across the board. There is one standout performance, and that is Richard Briers as Malvolio, and he is considerably better than good.

I found Anton Lesser's Feste a little strained and complicated, plumbing the part for depths not to be found. This is not Hamlet, nor was meant to be.

Some production decisions can be questioned, with anachronistic Christmas elements injected, along with a wholly awkward Christmas carol. The whole winter motif and monochromatic production can be challenged as well, but it all works nonetheless. Unlike some of Mr. Branagh's inspirations, no Bards were harmed in the making of this DVD, and that's a relief.

Many will tell you that Trevor Nunn's feature film of "Twelfth Night" with a potluck cast of stars is the best choice, but I find it a gross miscalculation in tone, scale and pace, and a complete misfire.

There is an 1969 ITV production floating around with truly towering performances by Sir Alec Guinness and Sir Ralph Richardson, but they unbalance the rest of the cast and threaten to capsize the play.

The best overall version with an ensemble cast that is beautifully balanced in every way is the 1980 BBC version from their complete traversal of the canon, with Felicity Kendal, Sinead Cusack and Alec McCowen. That is a delight from beginning to end.


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