A Midsummer Night's Dream


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

A Midsummer's Night's Dream
"This is one of those films where you wait for someone to fall off a horse."

A story of star-crossed lovers, fairies and a weaver with the head of a donkey needs something more than Hollywood's help to stop it looking silly. Michael Hoffman has decided to update the Elizabethan romantic comedy to turn-of-the-century, for no good reason other than as an excuse to introduce bicycles, and change the venue from ancient Greece to Tuscany where locals speak Italian and everyone else Shakespearean verse.

The enchanted forest resembles a set from Hook and the fairies have stick-on wings and behave like hand maidens. Michelle Pfeiffer, as the fairy queen, spends the whole time in bed, while Rupert Everett, as the fairy king, lounges about half-dressed, looking bored.

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Stanley Tucci's Puck has Darth Maul knobbles on his head and is allowed to play with the bikes. As for the amateur thespians who use the forest as rehearsal space for the play they are to perform at the Duke's wedding, only Bottom the Weaver has any role to speak of and Kevin Kline makes the most of it. In fact, he steals the film. Not difficult, under the circumstances.

The lovers, Christian Bale and Dominic West, are either wet or laddish. The objects of their desire, Calista Flockhart and Anna Friel, are neurotic and bouncy. The Duke (David Strathairn) is pompous and his beautiful new wife (Sophie Marceau) has nothing to do.

This is one of those films where you wait for someone to fall off a horse. They don't. You fall asleep, instead.

Reviewed on: 08 Jul 2007
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Shakespearean story of star-crossed lovers gets Tuscan treatment.
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Director: Michael Hoffman

Writer: Michael Hoffman, based on the play by William Shakespeare

Starring: Kevin Kline, Michelle Pfeiffer, Stanley Tucci, Rupert Everett, Calista Flockhart, Dominic West, Christian Bale, Anna Friel, David Strathairn, Sophie Marceau, Roger Rees

Year: 1999

Runtime: 116 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: Italy, UK, US


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If you like this, try:

As You Like It
Shakespeare In Love