Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Much Ado About Nothing (2012 film)

Based on the play by William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing is the story of a two people who tricked themselves into thinking they’re in love with each other while trying to get two other people to fall in love with each other. Written for the screen, scored, co-edited, and directed by Joss Whedon, the film is set in a modern-day setting at Whedon’s home in Santa Monica with some changes to the text to play into the basic elements of Shakespeare’s story. Starring Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Reed Diamond, Nathan Fillion, Clark Gregg, Fran Kranz, Sean Maher, and Jillian Morgese. Much Ado About Nothing is a whimsical and intoxicating film from Joss Whedon.

Set during a wedding ceremony that is to commence, the film revolves around two people who despise each other as they try to help two people get married as they also cope with their feelings for each other. During the course of the film, there’s a guest who wants to create ruin for the proceedings with a couple of his co-conspirators as it would later become chaotic. Joss Whedon’s screenplay definitely keeps a lot of the dialogue that William Shakespeare had written as well as the setting in the fictional town of Messina. Yet, Whedon would make some changes to the story as it is set in a modern world while expanding a few minor characters who play crucial roles to the story. There are also elements in the film that are comical as it relates to the character of Dogberry (Nathan Fillion) and his attempts to find the truth as he has to deal with the associates of the Don John (Sean Maher). Still, much of Whedon’s approach to the material remains faithful as well as infusing modern-day humor to play into the romance and comedy.

Whedon’s direction is definitely stylish not just for its black-and-white cinematography but also for its intimate setting as it is shot on location at the home of Whedon and his wife/producer Kai Cole as the house was built by the latter. While there are some wide shots of a few bits of the locations including the area around Whedon’s home, much of Whedon’s compositions are shot in and out of the house including the backyard with its swimming pool, garden court, and a view of the landscape around the house. Notably in the way Whedon would use the space to play into the way characters interact whether it’s in a close-up or in a medium shot that include scenes where Benedick (Alexis Denisof) and Beatrice (Amy Acker) both would listen to other characters talk about the other person to play into this sense of attraction. The response from both Benedick and Beatrice is filled with a sense of slapstick comedy in the way they would try and hear what their friends are saying.

With Whedon also serving as a co-editor with Daniel Kaminsky and composing the music score as it’s a mixture of jazz, folk, and low-key orchestral music to play into the comedy. Much of the editing is straightforward with some jump-cuts and fade-to-white transitions to play into the humor and some of the drama. Even during the film’s second act as it relates to the wedding proceeding as it play into the love-hate relationship between Benedick and Beatrice where they become aware of what is happening. The comedy still looms as it relates to Dogberry and the way he’s been treated by the people he arrested. Whedon would also maintain that sense of imagery into the events of the third act as it relates to deceit and power control with Benedick and Beatrice trying to set things right. Overall, Whedon creates a lively and witty film about two people whose disdain towards one another leads to them falling in love and in helping a young couple get married.

Cinematographer Jay Hunter does brilliant work with the film’s black-and-white cinematography as it has this natural yet gorgeous look to the film for its scenes in the day and night including scenes in the latter that includes a dinner party. Production designers Cindy Chao and Michele Yu do fantastic work with the look of some of the exteriors for the wedding as well as a few set decoration for the police base and some of the rooms at the house. Costume designer Shawna Trpcic does excellent work with the costumes from the casual look of the characters to some of the costumes and masks worn at the dinner party. Sound editor Victor Ray Ennis does superb work with the sound as it play into the atmosphere of the locations as well as music is presented in the film. Music supervisor Clint Bennett provides a wonderful soundtrack that feature a couple of songs written by William Shakespeare that are performed by Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen.

The film’s incredible cast feature appearances from Nick Kocher and Brian McElhaney as watchmen, Romy Rosemont as the sexton who watches over Dogberry’s interrogation of Don John’s attendants, Paul M. Meston as Friar Francis, Tom Lenk as Dogberry’s partner Verges, Emma Bates as a maid/attendant to Hero, and Ashley Johnson as another young maid/attendant to Hero in Margaret who unknowingly becomes a victim of Don John’s scheme. Spencer Treat Clark and Riki Lindhome are superb in their respective roles as Don John’s attendants in Borachio and Conrade as two people who help Don John in his scheme with the latter being Don John’s lover. Nathan Fillion is fantastic as Dogberry as a police investigator who is watching over the proceedings as he is trying to figure out what is happening when the wedding plans is being ruined as it’s Fillion being very funny and offbeat. Reed Diamond is excellent as Don Pedro as the Prince of Aragon who is the best man that is trying to deal with the chaos of the wedding while not knowing who is creating all of this trouble.

Jillian Morgese and Fran Kranz are brilliant in their respective roles as Hero and Claudio as two young lovers who are about to be married only to be unaware of the forces that is trying to break them up. Sean Maher is amazing as Don John as the bastard prince brother of Don Pedro who despises the young lovers as he wants to ruin them in his own pursuit of power. Clark Gregg is marvelous as Hero’s father Leonato who is Messina’s governor that is dealing with the chaos of what happens as he wants justice for the people that ruined his daughter’s wedding. Finally, there’s the duo of Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker in phenomenal performances in their respective roles as Benedick and Beatrice with the former being a charmer that isn’t willing to be with Beatrice yet as feelings for him while the latter is an energetic figure who despises Benedick but is protective of her cousin Hero where she turns to Benedick for help in setting things right.

Much Ado About Nothing is a sensational film from Joss Whedon. Featuring a great ensemble cast, dazzling visuals, a simple yet effective setting, and some witty interpretation of William Shakespeare’s words. The film is definitely a lively and inspired take on Shakespeare’s comedy as well as setting it in a modern world that proves that Shakespeare can fit in towards any environment. In the end, Much Ado About Nothing is a spectacular film from Joss Whedon.

Joss Whedon Films: Serenity - The Avengers (2012 film) - The Avengers: Age of Ultron - Justice League

© thevoid99 2018


Anonymous said...

I love this one. Love the black and white lensing. I watched it a couple of years after it came out and couldn't believe I'd let it go by at the time. A really interesting take that felt like an authentic, interesting adaptation.

Brittani Burnham said...

I never got around to seeing this, even though I liked the idea Whedon had with it. I'll have to check it out. Great review!

thevoid99 said... is as it was also so fun to watch. I really think Whedon was having a lot of fun having his friends do the film at his own house.

@Brittani-It's worth seeking out as Whedon just creates something simple but also something that is entertaining as it proves that Shakespeare can never get old.