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Example of Movie Critique

BY ROGER EBERT / November 8, 1996

Trevor Nunns new film version of Twelfth Night, a lighthearted comedy of romance and gender confusion, creates a romantic triangle out of the same sorts of mistaken sexual identities that inspired ``Some Like It ot!"" #nd Nunn directs it in something of the same spirit$ the film winks at us while the characters fall in love! To %e sure, Imogen Stu%%s makes a %etter %oy than &ack Lemmon made a girl, %ut no%ody"s perfect! The period has %een moved up to the '(th century, and the dialogue has %een slightly simplified and clarified, %ut Shakespeare"s language is largely intact )and easier to understand than in *a+ Luhrmann"s new ``,omeo &uliet"".! #lso intact is the ela%orate low/comedy su%plot involving the servants, which gets too much screen time relative to the main story, %ut supplies showcases for a ri%ald cast of character actors! The story0 # great storm at sea capsi+es a ship! # young woman named 1iola )Imogen Stu%%s. is washed ashore, %ut %elieves her twin %rother Se%astian has drowned! 2inding herself in the unfamiliar kingdom of Ilyria, where a young woman might %e at ha+ard, she dresses in her %rother"s uniform, cuts her hair, pastes on a false moustache, and poses as a young man named 3esario! Soon she wins a position at the court of young 3ount 4rsino )To%y Stephens., who is desperately in love with the Lady 4livia ) elena *onham 3arter.! The count sends his new page to stand %efore 4livia"s gate and press his case! *ut there are complications0 1iola falls in love with 4rsino, and 4livia falls in love with 1iola! Since 1iola cannot tell either one she is really a woman, almost every situation involving her is rich with dou%le meaning! Twelfth Night has %een directed %y Trevor Nunn, for 56 years a stalwart of the ,oyal Shakespeare 3ompany! e knows the material, and knows the right actors to play it! Shakespeare"s language is not hard to understand when spoken %y actors who are comforta%le with the rhythm and know the meaning! It can %e impenetra%le when declaimed %y unseasoned actors with more energy than experience )as the screaming gang mem%ers in ``,omeo - &uliet"" demonstrate.! Nunn"s casting choices make for real chemistry %etween Imogen Stu%%s and elena *onham 3arter )whose film de%ut was in Nunn"s ``Lady &ane"" in '7(8.! *onham 3arter, who has grown wonderfully as an actress, walks the thin line %etween love and comedy as she sighs for the fair youth who has come on %ehalf of the count! She wisely plays the role sincerely, leaving the winks to the other characters! Shakespeare"s comedies all offered two levels, high and low, and here the %awdy is handled %y 9el Smith as 4livia"s kinsman Sir To%y *elch, ,ichard :! ;rant as his foppish and a%surd friend Sir #ndrew #guecheek, and *en <ingsley as the trou%adour 2este! *ut the downstairs action is stolen %y Nigel awthorne )``The 9adness of ;eorge III"". as 9alvolio, 4livia"s chief of staff, who convinces himself 4livia loves him! Swollen with his self/importance, proud that he is impervious to the failings of mortals, he falls hard, and Shakespeare is =ust %arely a%le to save his heart from %reaking! Nunn sets up all of these tensions and misunderstandings in an enchanting, %eguiling style, and then lo%s in a grenade with the unexpected arrival of the twin %rother, Se%astian! The last scenes are exercises in dou%le takes and sly timing! #ll"s well that ends well, of course, %ut the full title of the play provides a %etter key0 ``Twelfth Night, or, >hat ?ou >ill!"" Since the notion of romantic love is what all of the characters are really in love with, it matters not so much who they love as that they love, allowing for the @uick ad=ustments of focus at the end!

The movie"s key player is Imogen Stu%%s, who was :mma Thompson"s rival in the '77A ``Sense and Sensi%ility"" )she was the character ugh ;rant was engaged to, against his druthers.! ere she has =ust that reserve that makes her character"s ridiculous situation work! She must contain her feelings a%out %oth 4rsino and 4livia, even in such touchy situations as when scru%%ing her employer"s %ack in the %ath! It calls for perfect tact, which she was %orn with, along with a twinkle in her eye!