Love’s Labour’s Lost (2000)

KENNETH BRANAGH

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BB.5France/United Kingdom/Canada, 2000Pathé Pictures International, Intermedia Films, Arts Council of England, StudioCanal, Miramax, Shakespeare Film Company.  Screenplay by Kenneth Branagh, based on the play by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Natascha McElhone and Kenneth Branagh in Love’s Labour’s Lost

Kenneth Branagh once again revamps Shakespeare for the big screen, this time with rather minimal results. Brought up to a more modern, 1930s setting, and featuring songs and dances of the period (Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, etc.), the film centres around the king of fictional Navarre () who has decided to give up the outside world for three years of solitude and study. He swears in his three best friends (, , Branagh) to do the same, to shun all earthly pleasures (including women) and concentrate on nothing but expanding their minds for the entire time they have consigned themselves to his cloister. From the very first day, however, their resolve is tested when four beautiful young women show up to tempt them: the princess of France () and her three ladies-in-waiting (,  and ).  Branagh’s use of music isn’t what ruins this picture, it’s his shallow screenplay that guts out too much of the story and leaves the rest of it feeling limp. By the time the four couples have overcome all obstacles and fallen truly in love, there’s no sense of accomplishment to allow the audience to feel like something has been experienced. The performers are all lovely and sharp, with a surprising Silverstone among the most appealing, and all do well with the singing and dancing, with Nivola being the best singer of the guys.

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