7.2/10
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105 user 98 critic

Stage Beauty (2004)

R | | Drama | 29 October 2004 (USA)
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A female theatre dresser creates a stir and sparks a revolution in seventeenth century London theatre by playing Desdemona in Othello. But what will become of the male actor she once worked for and eventually replaced?

Director:

Richard Eyre

Writers:

Jeffrey Hatcher (play), Jeffrey Hatcher (screenplay)
3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Derek Hutchinson ... Stage Manager
Mark Letheren Mark Letheren ... Male Emilia / Dickie
Claire Danes ... Maria Hughes
Billy Crudup ... Ned Kynaston
Tom Wilkinson ... Thomas Betterton
Ben Chaplin ... George Villiers II - Duke of Buckingham
Hugh Bonneville ... Samuel Pepys
Jack Kempton Jack Kempton ... Call Boy
Alice Eve ... Miss Frayne
Fenella Woolgar ... Lady Meresvale
David Westhead ... Harry
Nick Barber ... Nick
Stephen Marcus ... Thomas Cockerell
Richard Griffiths ... Sir Charles Sedley
Zoë Tapper ... Nell Gwynn
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Storyline

Based in the 1660's of London's theaters, this film is about the rules of gender roles in theatre production, and means to change them for everyone's benefit. Ned Kynaston is the assumedly gay cross-dressing actor who has been playing female parts in plays for years, particularly Desdemona in Othello, he also has a close relationship with a member of the Royal Court, the Duke of Buckingham. One day however, the rules of only men playing women could change when aspiring actress Maria auditions as Kynaston's praised role, Desdemona, and soon enough, King Charles II decides to make the law that all female roles should be played only by women. Maria becomes a star, while Ned finds himself out of work. But after a while, Ned finds it in his nature to forgive Maria's aspiration, they may even fall in love, and Charles may proclaim women will be played by either gender. Written by Jackson Booth-Millard

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Taglines:

She was the first of her kind. He was the last of his.

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexual content and language | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK | USA | Germany

Language:

English

Release Date:

29 October 2004 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Belleza prohibida See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend:

£128,035 (United Kingdom), 5 September 2004, Limited Release

Opening Weekend USA:

$38,654, 10 October 2004, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$776,691, 28 November 2004
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

First cinema film of Alice Eve. See more »

Goofs

The word "fan" (short for "fanatic"), meaning an enthusiastic admirer, was not used in this sense until the late 18th century. See more »

Quotes

[Ned is showing Maria different sexual positions; Ned is on his stomach underneath her]
Maria: So, am I the man or the woman?
Ned Kynaston: You're the man.
Maria: And you're the woman.
Ned Kynaston: Yes.
Maria: Isn't much to do.
Ned Kynaston: Not with what we're given.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Daily Show: Billy Crudup (2004) See more »

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User Reviews

Shakespeare in Love with brains. And acting.
7 September 2004 | by malcolm-wilsonSee all my reviews

We sat for the first few minutes wondering whether we'd come to the right film (expecting a formulaic period romp). And for a little while I was prepared to spend the rest of the evening apologising to my partner for the slowness and oddness of the film. But once our disbelief had been suspended and we'd got used to the cramped feeling of the film (more like a staged version than cinematic at times), we both loved it.

I agree that Claire Danes acted well (though the hyperventilation happened once too often) and Billy Crudup brought a complexity to the role that I rarely see in films. The reference to Shakespeare in Love is an affectionate comparison: I enjoyed the light snack of Gwinny, luvvies and Fiennes and have sat through the DVD time and again. But that film had a predictability that Stage Beauty lacked. We didn't know that Stage Beauty's 'love element' would ever work out.

I do not see the development of the relationship between Danes and Crudup as a conversion from gay to straight. Instead I see a problematic progress from an imposed gender identity (perpetuated through sexual fantasy by Buckingham) to an un"knowing" but more satisfying state, where it's being yourself (whatever that is) not performing a role that counts. I think that this is relevant to all of us as we perform the roles that we and those who've influenced our upbringing have created for ourselves. We can't easily escape them (and some are more hammy than others in their performance) but the knowledge that life is performative and complex is, for me, liberating.

And all that from a costume drama!


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