After the success of Henry V, many Hollywood pundits doubted whether Kenneth Branagh could do another Shakespeare play as well. But they needn't have worried. This interpretation of one of Shakespeare's most popular comedies is one of the best. The film opens with the beautiful vistas of Italy, the returning soldiers (led by Denzel Washington), the giggles of the waiting maids. Branagh as Benedick is the perfect foil to Emma Thompson's Beatrice as they wage the verbal battle of the sexes. Tricked by their friends into believing the other is in love, their happy banter is the prelude to the serious consequences of romantic love. Beautiful Hero (Kate Beckinsale) is rejected by the handsome Claudio ( Robert Sean Leonard) at the altar. When Hero 'dies', Benedick offers to do anything for Beatrice, and she asks him to 'Kill Claudio', the line on which the whole play turns. What happens next is a skilful blend of tragedy and comedy, with the vicious intrigues of Don John (Keanu Reeves) being undone by the irrepressible Constable Dogberry (Michael Keaton). The lavish and well thought out production leads to a happy ending, and all the couples have learned a few things about love. - J.R. Costa
Cast: Seignior Leona to, Governor of Messina: Richard Briers; Hero: Kate Beckinsale; Margaret: Imelda Staunton; Friar Francis: Jimmy Yuill; Seigneur Antonio: Brian Blessed; George Seacole: Andy Hockley; Francis Seacole: Chris Barnes; Hugh Oatcake: Conrad Nelson; Ursula: Phyllida Law; Beatrice: Emma Thompson; Messenger: Alex Lowe; Don Pedro of Aragon: Denzel Washington; Don John: Keanu Reeves; Conrade: Richard Clifford; Boracchio: Gerald Horan; Count Claudio of Florence: Robert Sean Leonard; Seigneur Benedick: Kenneth Branagh; Balthasar: Patrick Doyle; The Boy: Alex Scott; Constable Dogberry: Michael Keaton; Headborough Verges: Ben Elton; Sexton: Edward Jewesbury.
Director: Kenneth Branagh; Writers: Kenneth Branagh, William Shakespeare; Producers: Kenneth Branagh, Stephen Evans, David Parfitt; Production Companies: BBC, Renaissance Films, Samuel Goldwyn Company.
Colour. Runtime: 111 mins.
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