– by Linda Tran
Joss Whedon (creator of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Firefly and Angel) filmed Much Ado About Nothing in just 12 days at his Santa Monica home – while still directing The Avengers.
Much Ado About Nothing stars a bevy of “Whedon Alums”, such as: Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Nathan Fillion, Clark Gregg, Reed Diamon, Fran Kranz, Jillian Morgese, Sean Maher, Ashley Johnson, Tom Lenk and Riki Lindhome.
If you haven’t seen this on stage or even the 1993 movie adaptation (or if you weren’t forced to read it in high school like I was), Much Ado About Nothing chronicles two couples Benedick and Beatrice, and Claudio and Hero. The first couple are both witty and completely against the idea of getting married, the second couple are sweet, young and completely in love with each other. Of course, the rest of the ensemble cast provides the film’s plot developments – but there will lay spoilers.
Script-wise, the film stayed completely true to the original Shakespeare dialogue – except for the line in which Benedick says, “If I do not love her, I am a Jew.” This was changed to, “If I do not love her, I am a fool.”
The film is in black and white, but I honestly believe that this artistic choice really enhanced the film. I enjoyed the simplicity of black and white, as it really doesn’t take your attention away from the remarkable performances and the beautiful Shakespearean dialogue.
The casting was, in a word, perfect.
Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof as Beatrice and Benedick worked amazingly, thanks to their great talent and previous on-screen chemistry on the Buffy spin-off, Angel. Having Nathan Fillion and Tom Lenk as Dogberry and Verges was a genius move, as these two have a great comedic timing. Dogberry and Verges, in every adaptation of the play, are the highlight (comedy-relief) of the script – and having such great actors really did the characters justice. Playing Leonato was Clark Gregg – who not only played the character well and true, but brought an extra layer of emotion and humour to it.
For those who have seen Firefly, Sean Maher played sweet, lovable and smart so well – which was why he was the perfect choice to play Don John, the ‘villain’ in Much Ado About Nothing. It was Sean’s sinister glares and how he pronounces his words that added to his character.
The highlight of the film, at least for me, was the small additions that really ‘boost’ the scene – Whedon fans refer to this as, “Whedon Humour.”
One that stands out would be the scene (near the start) where Benedick and Claudio unpack their bags upon arriving at Leonato’s house. However this scene was shot in Joss’s children’s room, with stuffed toys everywhere. During his monologue in this scene, Alexis Denisof sits in a child’s chair and later puts on a dress-up hat with fur trimming.
There is so much about this film that I could go on about, but I probably wouldn’t be able to stop. Overall, this film is highly recommended – whether you’re a ‘Whedonite’, a Shakespeare fan or because you are huge fans of the actors.