15 March 2013

As You Like It 2006

As You Like It (2006)

  • Director: Kenneth Branagh
  • Based on Book: Shakespeare
  • Cast: Bryce Dallas Howard, Romola Garai, David Oyelowo, Adrian Lester, Alfred Molina, Kevin Kline, Janet McTeer, Brian Blessed
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor/actress in:
    • Kenneth Branagh: oh so many
    • Bryce Dallas Howard: Niceville, Manderlay
    • Romola Garai: Atonement, Inside I’m Dancing, Daniel Deronda
    • David Oyelowo: Niceville, The Number One Ladies Detective Agency
    • Adrian Lester: Hustle, Hamlet, Day After Tomorrow, Born Romantic
    • Alfred Molina: An Education, Chocolat, Frida
    • Kevin Kline: Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, A Prairie Home Companion, The Emperor’s Club, Life As a House, The Wild Wild West, The Ice Storm, Dave, The January Man, A Fished Called Wanda, Silverado, Sophie’s Choice
    • Janet McTeer: Woman in Black, Velvet Goldmine
    • Brian Blessed: Hamlet, I Claudius
  • Why bought: Shakespeare; Branagh
  • Seen: Twice. First time: awhile ago. Now: November 4, 2012

Writing about a Shakespeare play filmed by Kenneth Branagh for a movie blog like this is almost undoable. I shouldn’t be allowed on the jury because I’m involved.  Not really of course but I do tend to give Branagh’s movies lavish praise.
This one too. As always he gets it just right. The setting – Japan?! Why?! Who knows?  But it works.  The cast? Perfect.  I would not have picked any of them. How wrong I would have been. Now I can’t think of anyone who could have done it as well.  Especially good was Davis Oyelowo as Orlando.  In the three versions I’ve seen only this one gives some substance to Orlando’s character, who often regards Ganymede/Rosalinde as the lunatic he/she is, whose wry retorts to his/her sillier declarations prove he, i.e. Orlando, is not just a pretty face.
Branagh also succeeds in setting the dark tone that opens the play which others have missed: the young duke and older brother are nasty guys! But Branagh also shows a certain depth to their character – they know they’re nasty and wish they weren’t, so when they both turn nice in the end it’s believable.
As always, it’s obvious that this film is a labor of love for Kenneth Branagh and the result of this intelligent modernization of Shakespeare is an exuberant bubbling orgy of color, drama, wit, visual magnificance and beauty.
Don’t take my word for it.  See it.

10* of 10.

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