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An Inch Away From Ruination
on November 30, 2003
I was greatly disappointed by this, Trevor Nunn's attempt at a film of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, or What You Will. If you are a true Shakespeare fan, you probably will feel the same. The acting is certainly a treat, especially during scenes with Imogen Stubbs and Toby Stephens playing off of each other as Viola and Orsino respectively, Mel Smith as Sir Toby under the influence, the hilarious facial expressions of Ben Kingsley as Feste, and the always-wonderful Helena Bonham Carter as the ornery Lady Olivia. However, in he area of comedy, this film falls tragically short. Scenes and characters of great comic potential are made into deep dark messes. This is most painfully obvious in the character of Maria, a maid in Olivia's household who is quite taken by Sir Toby. What should be a saucy and strong character is reduced to a mushy and gushy ball of tears, suffering from her unrequited love for Toby, something that Nunn foolishly created (the original play called for an affair between the maid and the noblman). In another instance, the imprisonment of Malvolio, written by Shakespeare to be a comedic event, is shown here to be something sinister. Luckily, enough of the comedy is preserved to make it tolerable. See it to get an idea of the story, but not if Twelfth Night is a story you already know and love.