Tuesday, August 22, 2017

As You Like It

July 5, 2010 by · 5 Comments 

Emmy award winner Kenneth Branagh, the man who redefined Shakespeare for a whole new generation with Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing and Hamlet, brings the Bard’s most delightful comedy to sensational life! Rosalind is a young woman living in the court of her uncle when she falls in love with Orlando, a young gentleman of the kingdom. When Rosalind is banished, she flees into the forest of Arden disguised as a man…only to encounter Orlando who has also been exiled! But can she win his heart, disguised as she is? With a setting inspired by 19th century Japan and a star-studded cast including Kevin Kline (Dave, A Prairie Home Companion), Bryce Dallas Howard (Spider-Man 3, The Lady In The Water) and Alfred Molina (Spide… More >>

As You Like It


5 Responses to “As You Like It”
  1. Kenneth Branagh’s Shakespearean productions have always been perilously chaotic and extravagant, but in this one he’s finally gone off the deep end, a hodgepodge of politically correct casting (black hero, white heroine) set in Nineteenth Century Japan, which doesn’t even make a stab at historical authenticity. The Bard’s beautiful language takes a backseat to a trendy concern for oriental exotica that would gag a maggot. Branagh’s delirious intoxication with multiculturalism is pure self-indulgence. In the first ten minutes of the movie, there’s a Kabuki play, a Ninja-style attack, a kung fu bout and a sumo wrestling match. Has Branagh gone completely nuts? This isn’t homage to Shakespeare, it’s a desecration. The worst thing about Branagh’s contempt for historical verisimilitude is that it makes a mockery of Shakespeare’s painstaking calibration of character to time and place. The liberal critics at the NY Times will go gaga over this one!
    Rating: 1 / 5

  2. I really liked the play, it was very well done and worth watching. What I hate is the 5 minutes of commercials at the beginning of the DVD that you can’t skip or fast forward through. This is just BS. A pox upon the people that do this. I will never purchase another HBO DVD.
    Rating: 1 / 5

  3. It is a very interesting movie. The movie is good if your looking for something that uses the actual play. Great for school stuff.
    Rating: 2 / 5

  4. 18th century english garb, japanese influence, racial overtones, superficial zen…too many unnecessary distractions to mention. why guild the lilly, kenneth? this is one of the master’s most enjoyable comedies. the language is profound by itself however, when set in elizabethan times, “as you like it” becomes a riot of inuendo and irony. when is some brave/ingenious visionary going to recreate the original and use an all male cast? that’s where layers of humour can be mined to any depth a deft director might desire. alas, i’m still waiting…
    Rating: 2 / 5

  5. When will Kenneth Branagh learn? And when will the audiences who embrace his ridiculous visions of Shakespearean classics learn as well? His MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING was a rip-off of Judi Dench’s production from the mid-1980’s. His HAMLET was an abomination (he ignored the text in favor of his own creative license – I particularly love his setting the scene with the Ghost of Hamlet’s Father in a swamp instead of on the battlements, as the text specifies, despite numerous references in the script to the danger of the Ghost’s luring Hamlet to his rocky death below!)

    Granted, AS YOU LIKE IT is one of Shakespeare’s weakest comedies – randomly plotted with no real dramatic action per se, more of an assortment of interesting characters than an actual story. A wrestling match and a banishment give way to random couples frolicing in the nearby wood without purpose (unlike A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM.) But by setting the action in feudal Japan, Branagh seems to be searching for an explanation of the wrestling scene in the first act of the play, rather than making a specific statement about the play’s action transposed to that particular place and time. Ultimately the setting is pretty, but little else.

    We are thus left with a number of performances ranging from whimsical (Alfred Molina as the clown Touchstone) to mildly enchanting (Bryce Dallas Howard and David Oyelowo trying to eek out some sort of romantic chemistry) to “What play are they in exactly?” (Janet McTeer in a dumbed-down, slapstick turn as Audrey.) And Kline’s performance as the melancholy Jacques is well-recited, if not particulaly well-acted.

    Viewers unfamiliar with the play may not realize that Shakespeare’s character list is hodge-podge of types, ethnicities and heritages, so it’s understandable that Branagh chose an interracial cast for this text. This conceit is far more successful here than in his mixed-up version of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, where the miscasting is painful and greatly harms the film’s success. However, wonderful British actors like Brian Blessed and Richard Briers are given nothing to do and only serve to fill-out the otherwise young and good-looking cast.

    Branagh’s ideas can be mildly interesting, but too often they are unsupported by the actual text he is interpreting. Why set HAMLET in a quasi-Russia pre-Revolution? Why transform LOVE’S LABOURS LOST into a musical? Why set AS YOU LIKE IT in 19th Japan following its “opening to the West?” These questions aren’t really answered in any of his films, and in AS YOU LIKE IT in particular. The weaknesses of the film, however, are not entirely Branagh’s by design – Shakespeare’s play is itself quaint, mildly charming and totally inconsequential in comparison to most of his other comedies. Does Branagh elect to concentrate on the Bard’s stronger works? More often than not, no – he polishes what he considers to be a forgotten gem without realizing that it’s only a rhinestone.

    And, when in doubt, he his last resort is having the lovers dash around arm in arm, laughing gaily and skipping to and fro, under the ridiculous conceit that this passes as entertaining. Newsflash – it didn’t work in MUCH ADO, it certainly didn’t work in LOVE’S LABOURS LOST, and it doesn’t do any credit to AS YOU LIKE IT, either.

    Rating: 1 / 5

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!