Steve Mollmann wrote in the comments, ” I figured out who Robert Sean Leonard [was]. He’s the guy who ruined Kenneth Branagh’s Much Ado About Nothing. OK, so it was Keanu Reeves who ruined it. But Leonard didn’t exactly help.”
Ah, Branagh’s Much Ado.
Visit Target and you’ll probably see the DVD cheap. Five or six dollars cheap. Which is how I saw it about two years ago.
I sort of liked the film. Sort of. It wasn’t a great film. It was decent, generally inoffensive.
Keanu Reeves was probably the wrong guy for the villain of the piece. Wait, delete that “probably.” He was the wrong guy for the villain of the piece.
But even Keanu wasn’t the worst performer in the film.
Kate Beckinsale was terrible. Beckinsale looks great in anything, but she can’t act for toffee, and Much Ado was no exception. Maybe in Much Ado it was supposed to make sense, her and Robert Sean Leonard, because both were supposed to be young characters, falling in love for the first time, and so lacking in emotional maturity and social poise. But! No chemistry! No conviction! Pretty poor acting on both sides.
I liked Michael Keaton’s Dogberry. Indeed, when reading Harry Turtledove’s Ruled Britannia, it’s impossible not to envision Constable Walter Strawberry as Keaton’s Dogberry. (Actually, it’s impossible not to envision Joseph Fiennes as Shakespeare in the novel, too. Damn you, Shakespeare in Love! Damn you all to hell!)
And it had Denzel Washington, in a very un-Denzel-like role which he nailed with an effortlessness that makes the head spin.
I’d call Much Ado pretty much a miss for Branagh in his catalog of Shakespeare adaptations.
I’ve had this mad dream a time or three, that Branagh decided to mount a film production of The Merry Wives of Windsor, with Stephen Fry in the Falstaff role. But, rather than a conventional period production, Branagh decides to stage the film–
So, Stephen Fry in full Klingon regalia, with a bumpy forehead.
Madness, I tell you. Madness!
Come to think of it, though, I do think Fry would make a convincing Falstaff. In a conventional, English production of the play.
Enough about The Merry Wives.
What did I say about Much Ado? Pretty much a miss. Despite that, I find I can’t bring myself to part with the DVD. Oh, I doubt I’ll ever watch it again, unless I’ve really nothing else better to do, but on the off-chance I need some Brian Blessed and The Black Adder won’t suffice Much Ado may find its use after all.