Trevor Nunn is currently the Director of the National Theatre in London, but in 1996, during the 'Shakespeare boom', he tried his hand at film. The outcome is this very satisfying and entertaining film. In an extra-textual filmic Prologue, Nunn sets up the possibly confusing tale by clearly identifying who's who and what's what. The brother and sister team of Sebastian and Viola are entertainers on a cruise ship, which gets sunk, in a severe storm. Imogen Stubbs is wonderful as Viola, who after the 'death' of her identical twin brother (which, incidentally, is a biological impossibility – but never mind), is hired by Duke Orsino (Toby Stephens). Slowly and steadily she falls in love with her master. He, on the other hand, pines away for Olivia (Helena Bonham Carter) who pines away for her dead brother (who really is dead). Olivia becomes smitten with Viola, who is now Cesario, and Antonio rescues Sebastian, who is mistaken for Cesario, and… well, it's very complicated, but, under Nunn's guidance and judicious pruning of the text, it makes complete sense. The characters involved in the subplot of Sir Toby Belch (Mel Smith) to marry his niece Olivia to the inept Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Richard E. Grant) are brilliantly played against Sir Nigel Hawthorne's Malvolio. The setting is traditional/19th century, and the cinematography captures both the isolation and togetherness in Illyria. With a cast of some of the best British actors, this comedy rolls merrily along until its happy conclusion. Most of all, this film is fun. - J.R. Costa
Cast: Viola: Imogen Stubbs; Sebastian: Steven Mackintosh; Antonio: Nicholas Farrell; Captain: Sid Livingstone; Feste: Ben Kingsley; Priest: James Walker; Olivia: Helena Bonham Carter; Malvolio: Nigel Hawthorne; Sir Toby Belch: Mel Smith; Maria: Imelda Staunton; Duke Orsino: Toby Stephens; Valentine: Alan Mitchell; Fabian: Peter Gunn; Officers: Tim Bentinck, Rod Culbertson; Sir Andrew Aguecheek: Richard E. Grant; Gardener: Jeff Hall.
Director: Trevor Nunn; Writers: Trevor Nunn, William Shakespeare. Producers: Christopher Ball, William Tyrer, Simon Curtis, Stephen Evans, David Garrett, Patrick Wachsberger, Bob Hayward, Ileeen Maisel, David Parfitt, Greg Smith, Ruth Vitale, Jonathan Weisgal; Production Companies: Newmarket Capital Group LP, BBC Films, Summit Entertainment, Renaissance Films.
Colour. Runtime: 134 mins.
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