Love's Labour's Lost

"Good"

Love's Labour's Lost Review


Film musicals are a tough sell these days. It's either the annual Disney animation vehicle or it's Edward Norton dancing to swing music. I could probably count the last five years worth of decent musicals on my left hand. The juxtaposition of dialogue with song and dance always seems to remind me of the tragedies of my high school drama days. Those damn tights. The bad pancake makeup.

Kenneth Branagh's latest Shakespearean opus, Love's Labour's Lost, falls into the category of an ingenious experiment gone horrible wrong. Like a bartender with one too many vodka-tonics on his breath, Branagh mixes one of Shakespeare's lesser-known comedies with the music of Cole Porter and Irving Berlin and places everything in 1939 France. Think the Rat Pack in some bad 1960s film.

Tell me if this doesn't seem a bit strange to you: The King of Navarre and his three best friends decide to put down their swords and seclude themselves from the world in order to study philosophy and fast from food and comfort for three years. No women are allowed in the court, and all of them can do great Fred Astaire impressions. Ummm... sounds a bit kooky to me. The arrival of the Princess of France and her three maidens sends the boys into a crazed frenzy. Each of the guys decides to lay down his oath of seclusion and romantically pursue one special maiden of his choice. War erupts and all four boys must leave their newfound loves to fight for France's freedom. Toss in a couple of supporting characters full of enough shtick to shake a stick at (my lame attempt at iambic pentameter), comical deception, and bake at 300 degrees for thirty minutes or until the cheesy top turns a golden brown.

The scariest thing about this film is the decision to cast Alicia Silverstone as the lead role of the Princess of France. Has Branagh been doing drugs to suppress the memory of his role in last year's cinematic opus Wild Wild West? When Silverstone appears in the film and starts spouting Shakespearean dialogue, all I could see was her character Cher from Clueless performing a really, really bad Shakespearean oral report for her English final. It's a bit jarring at first to watch the actors move from the complicated dialogue of the play to the memorable songs of Gershwin, Porter, and Berlin: Sinatra and Dino are probably calling Branagh the "biggest palooka from Endsville" from the great beyond right now. Branagh also pulls the same mistake as Woody Allen did in his attempt at a musical by hiring actors that could't even sing and dance for change on the street.

It's also a damn shame that this film doesn't work on the whole. Branagh's directing is crisp and original. The inclusion of newsreel-style footage about the King's exploits makes for smart scene changes. The entire cast, with the strong exception of the Batgirl, runs the difficult dialogue with great ease. The costumes, makeup, and set design are amazing.

The most problematic thing about the film is that it would have been a success if only Branagh had stuck to the actual text of the play without the distractions of the music.

One thing's for sure... Branagh ain't no song and dance man.

Smokin' chicks.



Love's Labour's Lost

Facts and Figures

Run time: 93 mins

In Theaters: Friday 31st March 2000

Distributed by: Miramax Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 50%
Fresh: 32 Rotten: 32

IMDB: 6.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as The King (Ferdinand), as Rosaline, as Rosaline, as Berowne, as Sir Nathaniel, as Armado, Jimmy Yuill as Constable Dull, as Maria, as Dumaine

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The kill-or-die scenario that this movie hinges on isn't something new; it's been used in...

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

With the more dumbed-down title Fast & Furious 8 outside of North America, this overcrowded...

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

British writer-director Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea) is an expert at digging beneath the...

Advertisement
The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

Julian Barnes' Booker Prize-winning novel is adapted into a remarkably intelligent, gently involving film anchored...

The Boss Baby Movie Review

The Boss Baby Movie Review

There isn't a lot of subtlety in this madcap animated comedy, which is more aimed...

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

After the latest incarnation of Dredd, director Pete Travis shifts gears drastically for this complex...

Going in Style Movie Review

Going in Style Movie Review

This is only technically a remake of the iconic 1979 film starring movie icons George...

Graduation Movie Review

Graduation Movie Review

Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) recounts another staggeringly detailed...

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

This sci-fi thriller is so visually stunning that it deserves to be mentioned in the...

Free Fire Movie Review

Free Fire Movie Review

Basically a 90-minute shoot-out, there isn't a lot to this movie. British filmmaker Ben Wheatley...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.