Police officer Dirk Hendricks (Bartlett) files an amnesty application for Alex Mpondo (Ejiofor), a member of the South African Parliament who can't remember the torture he once endured as a captive political activist. South African-born attorney Sarah Barcant (Swank), meanwhile, returns to her homeland to represent Mpondo, as well as Steve Sizela, Mpondo's friend who was arrested along with him ... See full summary »
I find this an almost impeccable film version of this very subtle Shakespearean comedy, far transcending my former favorite, the 1996 film version by Trevor Nunn, which now pales in comparison. Shakespeare's TWELFTH NIGHT was probably written shortly after HAMLET, around 1601 or 1602, and thus embodies all the complexity of thought and feeling that dominated Shakespeare's greatest period of dramatic productivity. This is not COMEDY OF ERRORS or even MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM. This is a hilarious comedy tinged with darkness, with Shakespeare probably finally processing the death of his only son, Hamnet, in 1596. This film version of the play captures all that complexity. It is outrageously funny in its dark way, deeply thoughtful, and very powerful in its emotional resonance. This film elucidates characters, character relationships, and situations as no other production I have ever seen. Even the usually, nearly invisible Fabian becomes an important figure in the play. I am especially thrilled by the fresh line readings, many of which have opened new doors for me after nearly 40 years and dozens of experiences with this text. However, many people will be put off by this version's style, which is liberated and far from what people expect from Shakespeare. If one can open one's mind and heart to what is actually here and accept the film's style as a legitimate artistic choice, the appropriateness and power of the camera work and soundtrack become part of this film's strongest features. It is a version that can move those inexperienced with Shakespeare and those who know the text intimately.
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