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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

For Those With an Open Mind and Open Heart

Author: terry nienhuis ( from Cullowhee, N.C.
15 October 2005

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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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Interesting, melancholic approach to well-known play

Author: anniepearson50 from United States
28 August 2005

First, the acting in this production is excellent, with each actor finding new aspects of the characters in ways you wouldn't have thought of before. Second, the staging is novel and invigorating without being coy and silly in the way some modernized stagings of Shakespeare can be. The multi-ethnic casting adds another dimension of tension and sensuality to the story. If you are familiar with this play, what is intriguing is how this production renders all the lines faithfully, but the text becomes a melancholic, philosophical reflection on life and love--very sweet and moving without being cute. However, if you are watching this instead of reading Cliff Notes, yes, you'll probably have trouble writing your term paper. You will have to pay attention as much as you'd have to pay to actually reading the play. The only real criticism I'd make is that some attempts to be arty with the camera (and editing) don't always succeed.

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

A new version of one Shakespeare play that never seems to miss

Author: talltale-1 from Jackson Heights, NY
23 March 2005

I am not sure just what it is about TWELFTH NIGHT that makes it so difficult to mess up. Whether as movie or play, it's as close to a sure thing as Shakespeare ever wrote. I can't recall any production I have seen that didn't offer at least something worthwhile, and this new version--filmed probably for British or Scot television in 2003--boasts much more than that. Heavier on melancholy than most, it showcases a wonderful cast that's new to me (except for Parminder Nagra from "Bend It Like Beckham," Chiwetel Ejiofor from "Dirty Pretty Things" and Michael Maloney-- who makes a superb Malvolio).

Director Tim Supple (who also co-adapted) has set this in modern dress, and here the modern angle works terrifically well. Having the roles of Viola and Sebastian played by East Indians is also a smart move, adding a layer of Britain's colonial history to the mix. As well as I already know the play, I was often surprised at how Supple's visual choices uncovered new meaning to the script. And, as ever, the revealing of identities and mutual bonding at play's end moves us all over again. I think this sad and lovely version might be a good place for beginners to start--and confirmed 12th Night-lovers to continue their study.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant Adaptation

Author: greyeyed_archer from United Kingdom
15 December 2005

Despite having seen several successfully modern re-tellings of Shakespeare's work, this one caught me off guard. This version of "Twelfth Night" is absolutely smashing. The casting choices were excellent, and the players were most believable in their roles.

For me, the highlight was when Feste sings "O Mistress Mine". I remember memorising this piece as a lad, and I confess that I could not think of it other than as a "period" piece. However, the song becomes completely modern and almost has a pop feel to it as Zubin Varla sings it while accompanying himself on the guitar.

This version is very funny at several parts (think Malvolio) including some bits that would probably slip right past some directors (think Feste's reading of Malvolio's note). However, there is a very serious underlying atmosphere.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

An enjoyable and original adaptation.

Author: indiegal from London, England
21 March 2004

I have always liked Shakespeare's Twelfth Night - it's my favourite play. As such, I have seen many versions of it, both on film and in the theatre. With a play as old as Shakespeare's are, that's performed as much as this one is, it's difficult to get an adaptation that's new. I think this version managed to do that without taking it so far out of context that it didn't make any sense. I really enjoyed this version, as it was completely different to any I've ever seen before. I thought the leading cast members were all very good, especially Parminder Nagra who plays Viola. I loved the setting and agree with the decision to leave the Shakespearean language, as I think modernising language in Shakespeare never works - I have never seen one that does. The language is as much a part of the play as the plot. Overall, I don't think it was quite as good as the 1996 film directed by Trevor Nunn, but that's setting an impossible standard.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

What fun!

Author: pariah231 from United States
1 January 2006

Normally, modern adaptations of Shakespeare tend to be clunky and forced; Baz Luhrmann's "Romeo + Juliet" and Michael Almereyda's "Hamlet" are perfect testament to this. Even Richard Loncraine's "Richard III" falls on dull devices trying to place the action of that play in the imagined setting of World War Two. Perhaps it is that the tragedies and histories do not lend themselves well to being updated or embellished (see Julie Taymore's "Titus") and would best be left as they are.

This adaptation of Twelfth Night, however, benefits greatly from the liberties Andrew Bannerman and Tim Supple take with it. Not only is the story better for the adaptation, but the songs are beautifully rendered and the acting and stage direction is superb.

Also incredible is how much they accomplished with so little. This is quite obviously a low budget television adaptation with only a dozen or so sets and very few frills, but what the producers and directors manage to achieve with so little is startling. Whatever Bannerman and Supple made this for could not have exceeded the cost of a luxury car, but the film is a far better ride.

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6 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

almost but not quite a good version

Author: didi-5 from United Kingdom
7 November 2003

Let's get the good things out of the way first. I loved the performances of Parminder Nagra as Viola and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Orsino; I quite liked the idea of using the back story that of asylum seekers (and the ambiguous ending where maybe it wasn't Viola's ideal happy ending); I thought using CCTV to watch Malvolio (a decent performance from Michael Maloney) in the garden was a great touch; and I liked the drum n bass feel to the songs.

But - overall I felt the poetry of the play to be stifled in its new home, and some characters to either be too cardboard (Richard Bremner's Andrew) or too coarse to gain audience connection (David Troughton, a superb stage actor, possibly miscast in this version as Toby). Tim Supple has a reputation in theatre for his invention and his risk-taking. I think perhaps Twelfth Night stopped just short of what he could have done with it within the context of battles between nations and genders. It is the kind of play which thrives with different interpretations, but this one just leaves you a bit disappointed by the end.

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A surprisingly good and very interesting version of my personal favourite Shakespeare play

Author: TheLittleSongbird from United Kingdom
18 August 2012

I do like a lot of Shakespeare's plays, the language is not as easy to understand but some synopsis reading and some lessons on Shakespeare, like I had to do for English GCSEs and A Levels, will do just the trick. They have compelling stories and characters, and I love the poetic and witty style of the language. As much as I do love the likes of Hamlet, Midsummer Night's Dream, Merry Wives of Windsor(or Falstaff if you are an opera fan), Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing, Antony and Cleopatra and Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night is my personal favourite. It is deliciously funny and contains some of Shakespeare's most poetic prose(Much Ado About Nothing and Antony and Cleopatra also).

This 2003 version is not the definitive Twelfth Night for me. My favourite is between the 1980 and Branagh adaptations, and the Trevor Nunn film is excellent too for its great acting and exquisite visuals. I did find Sir Andrew rather cardboard, though Richard Bremmer did his very best with the role and does gain some chuckles, and two performances didn't work. Chiwetel Ejiofor is certainly handsome as Orsino but his performance has no real insight or motivation. David Troughton I do like, but even for a very rustic character like Sir Toby I did find him a little too coarse. While I did like the melancholic feel that the adaptation has, making the play more dimensional and more than a comedy(though essentially it is that) I did feel some parts did drag.

Conversely, this Twelfth Night does look great. I always like gorgeous scenery and photography and there is plenty of that here. The songs are beautifully incorporated and have a nice sense of rhythm to them. The dialogue still has its poetry and is still hilarious, especially with Malvolio, while the melancholic aspect is done surprisingly well. There are some interesting touches, such as the asylum seekers subplot and the Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, Feste and Maria spying on Malvolio via CCTV, and the multi-cultural aspect proved good, not just from a historical perspective but also it makes the play more accessible to a wider audience and ethnic minorities(or so I think). The performances are very good on the whole, Claire Price is very moving as Olivia, and there is a very amusing Feste from Zubin Varla. The standouts though were Parminder Nagra, who is not just entrancing to look at but her Viola looks very natural, and Michael Maloney's brilliant Malvolio, I did have a good giggle at the sight of him in yellow tights (pretty) hideous as they were.

Overall, interesting and surprisingly good. Maybe not the ideal version for everybody, especially traditionalists, but for those looking for solid fun this is a good watch. 7/10 Bethany Cox

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unprepossessing set but wonderful acting

Author: davidurieli from United Kingdom
6 June 2006

As a rather hard line traditionalist I tend to hate modern adaptations of Shakespeare but in this lovely 2003 TV adaptation of the 12th Night I forgot the modern jetsam and got lost in the play. The explanation of the modern context I found irrelevant but once Parminder Nagra came on the scene I was entranced. Once again Shakespeare shows his absolute timelessness, where, whatever the dress, furniture, architecture and scenery his brilliant lines taken up with sensitivity and skill still have the power to move you to tears again and again. Even though the 1996 adaptation with Imogen Stubbs was quite brilliantly acted it pales before gentle sincerity of emotion shown by Nagra. Probably not a performance for the uninitiated but for a Shakespeareophile pure bliss.

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3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

A made-for-TV adaptation of William Shakespeare's play.

Author: Michele Wilkinson ( from University of Cambridge, England
11 July 2003

A made-for-TV adaptation of William Shakespeare's play. Set in modern times with a multi-cultural theme, this is a rather sombre production of one of Shakespeare's comedies, bringing out the darker rather than the comic side of the characters. Sebastian and Viola are portrayed as asylum seekers, ship-wrecked and washed ashore on foreign island, each assuming that the other has drowned. Since they are identical twins, when Viola decides to pose as a man in order to find work it leads to all kinds of confusion including a love triangle involving the dignitaries of the land. Meanwhile amongst the servants and lower orders there is other mischief at work.

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