28 April 2013

In the Bleak Midwinter

In the Bleak Midwinter (a.k.a. A Midwinter’s Tale) 1995
  • Director: Kenneth Branagh
  • Based on book: No.
  • Cast: Michael Maloney, Nicholas Farrell, Julia Sawahla, Richard Briers, Celia Imrie, Mark Hadfield, Joan Collins, Jennifer Saunders, John Sessions
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor/actress in:
    • Michael Maloney    The Young Victoria, Babel, Hamlet (Branagh), Othello, Hamlet (Zefferelli), Henry V
    • Nicholas Farrell   Hamlet, Twelfth Night, Sex Chips and Rock’n’Roll, Driving Lessons
    • Julia Sawahla – Absolutely Fabulous, Cranford
    • Richard Briers – Love’s Labour’s Lost, Hamlet, Twelfth Night, Frankenstein, Much Ado About Nothing, Peter’s Friends, Henry V
    • Celia Imrie – Cranford, Wah-Wah, Daniel Deronda, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Hilary and Jackie, Hotel Marigold, Upstairs Downstairs
    • Mark Hadfield – Frankenstein, Felicia’s Journey, Tristram Shandy, Wallander
    • Joan Collins – I think I saw Dynasty once
    • Jennifer Saunders – Absolutely Fabulous, Friends
    • John Sessions – Merchant of Venice, Gangs of New York, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Henry V
  • Why bought: Kenneth Branagh and Hamlet
  • Seen: February 1, 2013.

       Finally!  I looked for this movie for a long time and when I finally got it last year I waited until Hamlet in our Shakespeare marathon.  We, here we are.  We finished reading the play yesterday (February 1) and celebrated by watching this.
What a nice film.  That sounds like damning it with faint praise but it’s not. It’s just really, really nice. A gang of passionate, out-of-work, penniless actors decide to stage Hamlet in an old church in the town of Hope (home town of two of them) in the middle of English nowhere.
Flaky ego trippers all, but as they get to know each other, their characters and friendships and the film deepen.  They and it become very likable.
It helps that several of my favorites are in the film: Michael Maloney, Nicholas Farrell, Julia Sawahla, Celia Imrie and a quick appearance by Jennifer Saunders.
It starts out a bit shaky at a frantic pace with very fast talking (no subtitles on this DVD unfortunately) and an audition scene plagiarized from The Commitments but just as funny. Seeing Saffy (Sawahla) doing Debbie Harry is priceless.
It’s funny, it’s heartwarming, it’s a touch of Hamlet and it’s Branagh.  I can hardly wait to see it again.

8 ½ * of 10

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