Shipwrecked twins are lost among love-sick aristocrats, unruly servants, mischievous pleasure seekers, clowns, and a puritan. With music as the bittersweet "food of love," all converge and conspire in this comic journey.
The death of King Henry VIII throws his kingdom into chaos because of succession disputes. His weak son Edward, is on his deathbed. Anxious to keep England true to the Reformation, a ... See full summary »
Helena Bonham Carter,
Brother and sister Viola and Sebastian, who are not only very close but look a great deal alike, are in a shipwreck, and both think the other dead. When she lands in a foreign country, Viola dresses as her brother and adopts the name Cesario, becoming a trusted friend and confidante to the Count Orsino. Orsino is madly in love with the lady Olivia, who is in mourning due to her brother's recent death, which she uses as an excuse to avoid seeing the count, whom she does not love. He sends Cesario to do his wooing, and Olivia falls in love with the disguised maiden. Things get more complicated in this bittersweet Shakespeare comedy when a moronic nobleman, Sir Andrew Aguecheek, and a self-important servant, Malvolio, get caught up in the schemes of Olivia's uncle, the obese, alcoholic Sir Toby, who leads each to believe Olivia loves him. As well, Sebastian surfaces in the area, and of course there is Feste, the wise fool, around to keep everything in perspective and to marvel, like we ...Written by
Gary Dickerson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
During one of the final scenes, when Malvolio reenters, it can be seen that his left shoe is missing. However, as he is walking up the stairs, you can clearly hear both heels clicking on the steps. See more »
Beautiful, Well Cast, A Swollen, Ponderous Dud......
In one of the DVD extras, a producer praises director Trevor Nunn as knowing more about Shakespeare than any man in England. (Not true, it's John Barton. But that's another story.)
Unfortunately, Nunn attempts to demonstrate his erudition in this beautifully photographed, somewhat medicinal misfire. In an attempt to serve up Shakespeare to everyone, he's bogged himself down in self-conscious paralysis. Despite the beautiful images and the star-studded cast, this is an airless, spineless lump.
Imogen Stubbs (Mrs. Nunn) is quite fine as Viola, and Richard E. Grant maintains great energy as Sir Andrew Aguecheek. Just about everybody else is sabotaged by a leaden pace and a heavy directorial hand. Nigel Hawthorne's Malvolio is destroyed by the glacial tempo, and Helena Bonham Carter's charm wilts at half speed.
Mel Smith is beautifully cast as Sir Toby Belch, but is also just too darn slow. In a major miscalculation, Ben Kingsley's plays Feste as a menacing ex-con, perhaps Abel Magwitch strayed in from "Great Expectations." This is a Killer Klown from Kornwall.
And in order to keep things this sluggish, at least a third of the text of the play is missing. It's the language that makes Shakespeare immortal, not the plots. Bad idea....
Oddly enough, in group scenes, actors often lose character, just standing around staring blankly at whoever is talking. You never see this in films, and you shouldn't. It should never happen.
There is a 1969 ITV version circulating with Sir Alec Guinness as Malvolio and Sir Ralph Richardson as Sir Toby Belch to remind us of how far we haven't come.
But best of all is the 1980 BBC DVD with Felicity Kendall, Sinead Cusack, Alec McCowen, Robert Hardy and Robert Lindsay. That "Twelfth Night" is an ensemble delight from beginning to end, with a full text and virtually flawless in engaging the play successfully on every level at once. Run, don't walk. It's a genuine treat.
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