With Kenneth Branagh (WILD WILD WEST, CELEBRITY), Alicia Silverstone (BLAST FROM THE PAST), and Nathan Lane (AT FIRST SIGHT, MOUSE HUNT) leading a stellar ensemble cast, Stanley Donen and Martin Scorsese present a sexy, gl... more »amorous, and fun 1930's-style musical that's earned terrific critical acclaim! The King of Navare (Alessandro Nivola -- MANSFIELD PARK, FACE/OFF) and his three best friends think that they've sworn off love in the pursuit of intellectual enlightenment. But when the Princess of France (Silverstone) and her beautiful attendants arrive for a diplomatic visit, their high-minded plans are turned completely upside down! Then, as war rages and secret passions burn, loyalty and devotion are tested like never before! Also featuring hilarious Matthew Lillard (SHE'S ALL THAT, SCREAM) and the classic songs of Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, and more -- go back in time and allow yourself to be swept away by this wonderfully entertaining motion picture treat!« less
"I've always loved Branagh. From the moment he made film history with HENRY V (by being the first person since Orson Welles to earn Oscar nominations for both actor and director for the same film) to the light touch he brough to his voice acting in the animated ROAD TO EL DORADO, he has always been a favorite.But--a film musical based on one of Shakespeare's least-important works? Set in the late 1930's no less? Sounds almost as bad an idea as MOULIN ROUGE. Intrigued, we rented the film from Netflix.AND FELL IN LOVE. Who cares about the chop-job he did on the "sacred" text? Who cares about the lack of voice in some of his singers? What we watched was a film that made us smile from the opening credits all the way through the final act.
Set aside your preconceptions about what a Shakespeare film should be. Set aside your ideas about what a musical should look like. Enjoy the fun of the film, the glamour of its costuming, its very likable cast. When most movies try to be either extravaganzas or "serious," it's nice to have Mr. Branagh and company give us something that does exactly what it sets out to do: give you a very pleasant entertainment."
Much Ado About a Musical
Duane S. Montague | 09/29/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This film was not widely released, but being an avid Branagh fan I made a trip to go see it, hoping it would become a favorite like his earlier film, Much Ado About Nothing. Alas, this was not the case. Although very cute, I felt like I was watching a high school drama production -mind you, a very good one- but I didn't think it was as up to par as some of his earlier films. The movie definitely does have a feeling of a MGM musical (I think that's what they were going for) and the songs are old favorites by Cole Porter, the Gershwins, and Irving Berlin. Amazingly enough, the actors sing, and quite well. Adrian Lester (previously seen in Primary Colors) has a great voice and was the best dancer in the cast. At times I felt that Alicia Silverstone (The Princess) seemed a little too southern California for Shakespeare, but even she began to grow on me during the movie.Love's Labour's Lost is one of the Bard's lesser known plays and is very easy to understand. Although I seemed to rip on the movie, I truly did enjoy it. It's a light comedy, and even though it's Shakespeare, it won't have you scambling for your Cliffs Notes. A must see for fans of the Bard and musical lovers alike!"
LLL 40% Shakespeare, 100% fun
Matt Hudson | Cambridge, MA, USA | 10/14/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Love's Labour's Lost is true to the spirit of Shakespeare's comedy if not the text itself. A delightfully entertaining blend of Gershwin, Porter, and a little bit of the Bard, LLL is highly recommended for musical theatre lovers and anyone willing to consider Renaissance theatre in ways not involving pantaloons and talking to skulls. Nathan Lane is brilliant as Costard, here interpreted as a struggling vaudevillian; Lane lends vocal support (the weakest area of the cast) to the eleven o'clock number "There's No Business Like Show Business." Though the ensemble struggles through some of the musical numbers, the bittersweet "They Can't Take That Away From Me" is all the more moving because of their difficulties. The only number which seems not to fit within the framework of the play/musical/film is also its chief selling point; LLL publicity has focused upon the Fosse-esque "Let's Face the Music and Dance," which stands out in an otherwise charmingly coquettish production as a sexually charged sore thumb. As always, theatricality dominates Branagh's directorial style; look for long, sweeping shots and entire scenes filmed with a single camera and no cut-aways. Though many critics lambasted Branagh for cutting well over half of Shakespeare's text, the musical interludes fulfill much of the function of the missing lines in a way that is a dead-on throwback to an earlier generation of entertainment."
clayjars479 | il | 05/21/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I'm being generous with four stars, but Amazon won't let you rate with halves and I couldn't bear to give this delightful little bit of fluff three or less.Let's take the elements here: 1)Shakespeare - YAY! Love 'im, he's great, and I don't much care how much is taken away in terms of volume of lines as long as the actors can put the necessary omph behind them. 2) 30s hits - HOOO BABY, yay! Cole Porter, Gerswhin, delightful music. Can't really go wrong. 3) Kenneth Branagh -- good. He likes to go over the top, push the envelope, whatever cliche you want to use to say that he is a daring filmmaker, and that sort of daring is necessary both for musicals and for Shaekspeare productions. Sure, he oversteps every now and then, but it doesn't detract from all that he gets right. Stupid things like having the Don kick his lackey in the crotch are easily overlooked in light of the hilarious fun Branagh ocassionaly has with adapting a modern setting to the original text. Do you actually need to know the plot? Nope, not really, it's doesn't matter much. The film is a vehicle to get four attractive men paired up with four attractive women and have a lot of rollicking good times, singing and dancing in between. In short, though, the king of Nevarre and his three chums have agreed to devote themselves to study for the next three years, forgoing food, drink, sleep, and women. Then -whoops!- four women, headed by the princess of France, drop into town. Shakespeare's comedies actually are comparable to musicals -- there's a lot of beautiful verse, people fall in love at first sight, and reality is chucked right out the window, thank you very much.One of my favorite bits was when the four goofy lovers all come into the library one by one to confess their love, seemingly to no one, and each man is overheard and found out. Dumaine is called out by Longaville, and the King jumps out of his hiding place to chastise them both. In the original text, Nevarre is hidden in a bush, but in the movie he hides in plain view, holding a potted plant in front of his face. His line, "I was shrouded in this bush," while holding aloft the little plant makes me laugh like the idiot I am.I didn't really mind that the actors aren't phenomenal talents; they're clearly having fun. Alessandro Nivola as the King was a surprise for me; I'm generally dubious about most American's abilities with Shakespeare, but he was very capable and easily understood (that's really the mark of whether or not a person is good at Shakespeare. If you, without reading the text, can follow what a character is saying, then they're doing it right). He has a solid singing voice and is just plain fun to watch. Branagh is a good singer, a fair dancer, and his Shakespeare will always be phenomenal. Adrian Lester is FAN-damn-TASTIC, and Matthew Lillard kind of sucks, but he fortunately has a very small part. The four boys, in general, are extremely entertaining.For the women; I can hardly abide Alicia Silverstone in this role. Her singing voice is very thin (the girls' "Fancy Free" just isn't that good. Silverstone's solo baffled me. I was like, "What are you trying to do? Be British? Sing? Cause you're not really doing either."), her dancing is probably the weakest of the women's, and her Shakespeare is wretched. She doesn't speak it like she gets it, more like she's trying to put emphasis on every single stupid word. The Princess, instead of being a wit, is just kind of annoying. Natasha McElhone is fantastic as Rosaline; she gives her character dignity where Silverstone's is a flighty teen. The other two girls are really interchangeable and neither have significant solos.All in all, it was a very entertaining film. As a whole, it's a good time, even though it isn't first rate Shakespeare or musical. Whee!"
I like a Gershwin tune, how about you?
Zack Davisson | Seattle, WA, USA | 02/27/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As to being a fan of Kenneth Branagh's interpretation of Shakespeare and the classic Hollywood musical, I confess both. This acknowledged preference leaves me predisposed to enjoy this film. And yet, on first viewing, I found myself vaguely dissatisfied. I wasn't "bowled over" the same way I was by "Much Ado About Nothing" and "Hamlet." I missed all of those great location shots and sweeping vistas. Where were the castles? Where was the sense of importance?Thankfully, I gave the film a second viewing and I came to realize that "Love's Labor's Lost" is not only Shakespeare filmed as a 1940's Hollywood musical, but it is filmed in the style of a 1940's Hollywood musical. All action takes place on a sound stage, and all the colors are primary. It's not meant to look real the way "Henry V" looks real. At this realization, I settled back and thoroughly enjoyed the film. I liked it even better on the third viewing when I pulled out my book and followed along with the play. The tunes do an amazing job of capturing the missing dialog and forwarding the play.This film has an amazing collection of tunes, with George Gershwin, Cole Porter, and Irving Berlin posthumously collaborating, each contributing their finest work. While there is not a Gene Kelly among them, all of the actors are surprisingly capable triple threats. Alessandro Nivola has a very nice voice, and Adrian Lester shows them all what dancing is during "I've Got a Crush on You." Nathan Lane is great, of course, and Timothy Spall plays a very funny Don Armado (who gets to sing "I Get a Kick Out of You"). Natascha McElhone is a stand out among the ladies, and Alicia Silverstone is surprisingly no Keanu Reeves.The ending of this film is the real prize. The cast sighs their way through "They Can't Take That Away from Me" looking as "Casablanca" as they can get. For a Shakespeare comedy, it is quite a melancholy ending. You this way, we that way.Finally, as the successful mark of a musical, I have been humming these tunes for weeks. "Take a lesson from me, I'd rather Charleston...""