Joss Whedon does quite a bit of something in Much Ado About Nothing, a creative blend of contemporary wit and love with Shakespearian vernacular. Recreating a 1598 piece of art for modern audiences is no easy feat, yet, Whedon, who is having a booming year after Cabin the Woods, The Avengers, , does the unthinkable by retelling a Shakespearian play through film that doesn’t put the viewer into an eternal slumber.
Shot in silky black and white, Much Ado About Nothing is – like a majority of the works of William Shakespeare – a romantic story framed around two lovers bound together by their mutual affection, then torn apart by their equally inflated egos. Beatrice (Amy Acker) is a fast-talking, closet romantic secretly taken with Benedick, a slightly arrogant wealthy man played by Alexis Denisof. Acting as a foil to the aforementioned pair are Claudio (Fran Kranz) and Hero (Jillian Morgese), two younger adults who’ve fallen hopelessly in love with one another. Any further examination of the plot here is rather useless. Chances are, many readers know the general outline of the play, and if not, you’re better off going in blindly to Much Ado About Nothing.
Filmed over a twelve-day period at Whedon’s gorgeous Santa Monica home, the newly renowned big-budget filmmaker displays his versatility with this genuine and intimate little film. Though the famed Buffy the Vampire creator has allowed his sharp sense of humour to seep into his last two endeavors with great success, it’s surprising just how well it translates onto the vivid and witty prose of Shakespeare too. The rhythm and feel of the picture is right on cue, with credit deserving of the cast and their ability to enunciate the nearly 500-year-old verse. Romantic leads performed by Acker and Denisof are especially joyful in their playful, rapid-fire discourse interspersed all throughout the film. Clark Gregg (Agent Coulson in the Marvel films) is also excellent as the romantic matchmaker who cares for the well being of all parties.
Much Ado About Nothing is undeniably slight and light, particularly in its overarching themes. However, such a caveat doesn’t do much to detract from the overall buoyancy of the movie.