THIS JOURNAL DOCUMENTS MY INTAKE OF ONE BOOK, ZINE, CD OR DVD A DAY. RATINGS ARE: ***** = Godhead, **** = Great, *** = Good, ** = Fair, * = Why Bother?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Taming of the Shrew (**)

from Shakespeare Retold
Warner Home Video, 2007, 360 minutes
originally broadcast on BBC TV, November 2005

By the time I got to this, the third of four episodes of the BBC series Shakespeare Retold, I had to agree with the critics who said it got progressively worse with each week. If Much Ado About Nothing was the peak and Macbeth the low, this one was somewhere in between, starting off promisingly with the setting recast in a political venue with Katherine Minola (Shirley Henderson) as a workaholic, ball-busting, potty-mouthed conservative poised for her party's leadership, her beautiful sister as a shallow supermodel and Petruccio (the outrageously handsome Rufus Sewell, who previously starred with Shirley Henderson in Charles II) as a ne'er-do-well raspcallion out to tame the shrew. So far, so good, even if I was taken aback by how over-the-top Shirley Henderson was playing the shrew - I mean, when she cursed, it made me cringe - but things soon fall apart as Sewell's character takes center stage as a cross-dressing loon on a bender. Plus, I think the sexism innate in Shakespeare's play just doesn't hold up these days, the whole give-up-everything for This (Not So) Charming Man in these Hillary Clinton taking it to the Convention endgame times. Still, I was impressed by Ms. Henderson's acting chops; when she shows her range from going hardcore to soft and weepy, it's a moving moment and it made me want to seek out more of her work - and there's a lot, from Trainspotting to Topsy-Turvy to (more recently) Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day.

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