Wednesday, 30 October 2013
Presumably inspired by Bernie Madoff, this is really just a vehicle for Cate Blanchett. She does an extraordinary job, playing a very selfish, snobbish woman, but it does all seem a bit of a self-consciously fine histrionic performance - look at me and the extraordinary way I can play this rampant egoist, with all her minute mannerisms and facial tics. The characters around her are mere caricatures - the diplomat who wants to become a politician appears to have walked straight out of a Ferrero Rocher advertisement and Chilly is equally one-dimensional. Still, as someone else remarked, everything in he film is really just scaffolding for the Blanchett performance and, darling, she is magnificent (if you like that over the top Sara Bernhardt kind of thing).
Set in a modern suburban house, filmed in black and white, this was too cool for my liking. All the male characters wore suits, creating the impression they were bankers or clerks on some kind of compulsory work bonding weekend. Why did one arrive handcuffed, where did they all fit in the contemporary scheme of things, why was Benedick rolling about on a bed in a small child's room? It is all very well to set plays in new times and places but, if no logic is provided for the change, the audience - or this member of it anyway - becomes distracted from the play itself by practical questions. Perhaps that was why I felt none of the usual pleasure when Beatrice and Benedick got together. None of the humour or the beauty of the script came through, Benedick lacked charm, and the whole underlying theme of appearance and reality seemed to be absent. An unpleasantly paper thin production, lacking richness and emotional depth.