For film-goers, cult TV fans and Shakespeare lovers, the big movie premiere next month will be Joss Whedon’s black and white, shot in a fortnight, self-financed film of Much Ado About Nothing at the Toronto International Film Festival in Canada.
Whedon launched his career as a scriptwriter with the 1992 film, Buffy The Vampire Slayer which he subsequently developed into a long-running TV series. This year his 2009 horror film, The Cabin In The Woods was finally released closely followed by The Avengers (released in the UK as Avengers Assemble), the biggest action film of the year, which he both wrote and directed.
But through all his popular success he has remained a devoted fan of Shakespeare and he regularly assembled the Buffy cast members at his home to read the plays together. So what’s his take on Much Ado? In an interview last year he said, ‘I got a very strong sense of how dark and twisted it is.’ That dark side led him to shoot the film in black and white as what he describes as a noir comedy, ‘I fixated on this notion that our ideas of romantic love are created for us by the society around us, and then escape from that is grown-up love, is marriage, is mature love, to escape the ideals of love that we’re supposed to follow.’
Whedon told the cast to treat the play as a modern piece. Sean Maher, who plays Don John, said, ‘The direction we were getting from Joss was to make it real, especially with the language, not to be big and Shakespearian, but to bring it in and be intimate and bring it as close to a realistic way of speaking as we could.’ Fran Kranz, who plays Claudio, also enjoyed Whedon’s naturalistic approach, ‘It’s a lot of handheld, intimate shots. It will have a relaxed, casual feel to it, which will be refreshing for Shakespeare. We didn’t have a lot of time to rehearse – as soon as we had memorised it, it was action.’
The actors wear their own clothes and the film was shot on location at Whedon’s home in Santa Monica. This guerilla filmmaking style gave Whedon a welcome break after the big budget, effects-laden The Avengers, ‘As we were finishing The Avengers in New York, my wife and I were planning our vacation for our 20th anniversary. And she said, “Let’s not take the vacation. Make a movie instead.’
There’s no distributor yet, and therefore no UK release date, but if you’ve heard any rumours or, better still, if you see it in Toronto, then let us know what you think in the comments box below.