Back in October 2011 as fans were tantalised by reports and on-set pictures of Avengers Assemble, Joss Whedon, whilst taking a break from filming, completely shot his own adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic Much Ado About Nothing. At his own house. In about 14 days. And no one knew about until filming had completely wrapped. A feat even for Whedon’s standards.
The production was largely inspired due to Joss Whedon’s Shakespeare reading parties, which came about during filming of Buffy, in which various cast members would come to Whedon’s house and perform read-through’s of Shakespearean plays. It stars a cast of Whedon alumni which include Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof in the lead roles of Beatrice and Benedict, amongst others including Clark Gregg, Nathan Fillion, Tom Lenk, Sean Maher and Fran Kurtz. It’s completely shot in black and white and the script still keeps Shakespeare’s language despite its modern day setting. The backdrop of Whedon’s home brings a wonderful intimacy to the film, and in general the film is beautifully shot.
Acker and Densiof are great sparring partners for each other and the chemistry that they had in Angel is still very much present on-screen. They make a fantastic Beatrice and Benedict, both feisty and bringing a fresh take on the characters. There are some funny moments, mostly provided by the uncanny double team of Tom Lenk and Nathan Fillion. Also the classic scenes of Beatrice and Benedick eavesdropping on their friends as they secretly set them up are brilliant fun.
The wait was quite long for most to see this film, with the film opening on release about 18 months after it was originally announced. It received great reviews at various film festivals it was shown at and received a limited release at selected cinemas in the UK and US. If you weren’t lucky enough to find it, or fancy giving this Shakespeare adaptation a try, then it’s certainly worth a watch – even though it’s Shakespeare’s work, it simply screams Joss Whedon and has his stamp all over it.
“I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow, than a man swear he loves me” (Beatrice, Much Ado About Nothing)