Unquestionably the most fun Shakespeare has been on-screen in a long time.
Twelfth Night, always considered world-wide to be one of the most fun-filled of the
Bard's plays, is given an enchanting presentation with a superb cast under the
masterful direction of Trevor Nunn.
For those unfamiliar with this fantastic tale, it runs like this: A shipwreck off the coast
of Illyria causes the separation of twins, Viola (Imogen Stubbs) and Sebastian
(Stephen Macintosh) who now each believe the other to have drowned in the violent
storm. Once on shore, Viola disguises herself as a boy named Cesario and finds
employ with Orsino, the Duke of Illyria (Toby Stephens). A local noblewoman named
Olivia (Helena Bonham Carter), having recently lost her father and brother has
decided to enter into a seven-year period of mourning, repeatedly rejects the
advances of the lovesick Duke. Cesario becomes go-between in this unrequited
affair while simultaneously becoming more intimately attached to each of the parties
in separate ways. Sebastian also eventually appears on the scene and,
complicating matters even further, is constantly mistaken for Cesario. A film about
romance with romance in the background and irony abounding in the air. The
confusion of genders and the greater confusions of love confront the viewer
continuously with a forceful awareness of the complications attached to romantic
© Polygram B.V.
The background is filled with some of Shakespeare's most enjoyable characters
(such as Sir Toby Belch, Malvolio, Sir Andrew Aguecheek, and Feste) delightfully
portrayed by actors such as Mel Smith, Nigel Hawthorne, Richard E. Grant, and Ben
Kingsley. Director Nunn has a reputation to live up to and he certainly does it proud
in this gem of a film. He gives the comic situations a contemporary ring without
glossing over or losing sight of the painful edges often accompanying love such as
that most excruciating humiliation experienced by Malvolio.
Filmed on National Trust properties in Cornwall the locations help to capture the
Celtic magic of this version of the tale which is dressed in the styles of the 1890's.
From the underwater magic of the original separation to the moving reunion of the
twins, it is a pleasure to behold. The similarity between Stubbs and Macintosh, who
at first do not appear to share any great likeness of feature, becomes striking and
astounding. It is easy to believe the tale when one is swallowed into it so
completely. Superb points for everyone involved.
Even those who complain they dislike watching Shakespeare are bound to smile and
laugh at this wonderful performance.
A DON'T MISS.
© 1994-2006 The Green Hartnett
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