Leonato (Clark Gregg), the governor of Messina, is visited by his friend Don Pedro (Reed Diamond) who is returning from a victorious campaign against his rebellious brother Don John (Sean Maher). Accompanying Don Pedro are two of his officers: Benedick (Alexis Denisof) and Claudio (Fran Kranz). While in Messina, Claudio falls for Leonato's daughter Hero (Jillian Morgese), while Benedick verbally spars with Beatrice (Amy Acker), the governor's niece. The budding love between Claudio and Hero prompts Don Pedro to arrange with Leonato for a marriage. In the days leading up to the ceremony, Don Pedro, with the help of Leonato, Claudio and Hero, attempts to sport with Benedick and Beatrice in an effort to trick the two into falling in love. Meanwhile, the villainous Don John, with the help of his allies Conrade (Riki Lindhome) and Borachio (Spencer Treat Clark), plots against the happy couple, using his own form of trickery to try to destroy the marriage before it begins. A series of comic...Written by
Joss Whedon wanted to incorporate Steadicams for filming, but was unable to due to timing and budget constraints. See more »
It is Ursula & Hero whom are 'meddling' (talking about Benedick's love for Beatrice as she eavesdrops). In the following scene, Claudio relays to Don Pedro that it was Margaret & Hero that were meddling. See more »
Thou naughty varlet!
Away! You are an ass! You are an *ass*.
Dost thou not suspect my place? Dost thou not suspect my years?
[Conrade escorted away]
O that she were here to write me down an ass! But, masters, remember that I am an ass; though it be not written down, yet forget not that I am an ass. No, thou villain, thou art full of piety, as shall be proved upon thee by good witness. I am a wise fellow, and, which is more, an officer, and, which is more, a householder, and, which is more, as ...
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Shakespeare has it both ways, and Whedon delivers.
"Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more, Men were deceivers ever, One foot in sea and one on shore, To one thing constant never." Much Ado about Nothing
Deception for good and bad is the stuff of the popular Shakespearean comedy, Much Ado about Nothing. Joss Whedon's modern dress adaptation preserves in lovely fashion the Bard's meanings while making them readily applicable to modern times. The airy location at Whedon's Santa Monica estate, with its easily overheard conversations, allows men and women to deceive and be deceived and be caught but not fast enough to prevent some major hurt.
The battle of the sexes is best evidenced in the verbal roughhousing of Benedick (Alex Denisof) and Beatrice (Amy Acker): "I wish my horse had the speed of your tongue" (Benedick). The battle takes a grim toll when evil Don John (Sean Maher) sets up Claudio (Fran Kranz) and Hero (Jillian Morgese) for her infidelity and his refusal to marry her because of it. Contrarily, deception brings Beatrice and Benedick into a loving relationship, so the game of love is apace and indiscriminate.
Shakespeare has it both ways, a considerable feat, to bring the right lovers together and punish those who would destroy the love. The film shows in revealing angles (those bird's eye shots from the ceiling area are effective giving the overheard and peeping-tom points of view) and close-ups the ambiguities of love. Even when Benedick falls under love's aegis, that state continues to be difficult for both him and his love.
The striking black and white strips the romance of unnecessary frivolity while reminding the audience of the halcyon days of screwball repartee that such stars as Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant made high art:
Beatrice: "I would not deny you, but by this good day, I yield upon great persuasion, and partly to save your life, for I was told you were in a consumption."
Benedick: "Peace. I will stop your mouth."
Shakespeare plays out the battle of the sexes with his genial finesse, never forgetting the divisive nature of love:
"Friendship is constant in all other things, save in the office and affairs of love." Claudio
Although I am a devotee of Kenneth Branagh's 1993 adaptation, Whedon's takes a comfortable place in my favorite canon.
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