Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. Renaissance Films, American Playhouse Theatrical Films, BBC Films. United Kingdom/USA, 1993. Screenplay by Kenneth Branagh, based on the play by William Shakespeare. Cinematography by Roger Lanser. Produced by Kenneth Branagh, Stephen Evans, David Parfitt. Music by Patrick Doyle. Production Design by Tim Harvey. Costume Design by Phyllis Dalton. Film Editing by Andrew Marcus. Cannes Film Festival 1993. Golden Globe Awards 1993. Independent Spirit Awards 1993.
Shakespeare’s energetic comedy comes to life beautifully under Kenneth Branagh‘s sturdy direction, as couples swap and lovers quarrel in an Italian villa that is being visited by conquering soldiers. Branagh and Emma Thompson (his real-life wife at the time) trade barbs beautifully as the constantly bickering Benedick and Beatrice, while Robert Sean Leonard‘s Claudio finds affection in the arms of the lovely Hero (a debuting and totally boring Kate Beckinsale). Their romance isn’t meant to be easy, however, because a jealous villain (Keanu Reeves, who performs Shakespeare the way you’d expect from a German Shepherd) thwarts their plans and causes a mix up that results in a possible death. Oh, the woe of it all until it is finally resolved in the last act! Colourful and zesty, with beautiful music and a very fine cast.