Love’s Labour’s Lost

Review Date:
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Writer: Kenneth Branagh
Producers: Kenneth Branagh and David Barron
Allessandro Nivola as the King, Alicia Silverstone as the Princesss, Kenneth Branagh as Berowne
The four boys of Navarre have sworn off girls and limited their food and sleep intakes for a period of three years, in order to concentrate exclusively on their studies. Unfortunately for the gents, circumstances soon change when four very lovely ladies come to visit, and cupid, the boys, the girls, the songs and the dances all take a shot at their hearts.
Wow. A magical recreation of the classic 1930s style musicals, filled with infectious dances, delightful songs and an overall sense of joy and merriment all around. What a wonder to see such an original film still being produced in our day and time. Is there a market for this type of movie? I’m not sure, but the film put together here by Kenneth Branagh is certainly an excellent candidate to begin the trend. The movie is able to capture the pure essence of the classic films from the day, and present it to us within a bouquet of colorful costumes, authentically decorated settings, captivating performances from the cast and every fine detail that you would expect to receive from a master craftsman. In fact, the opening credits impressed me right off the top, with their classic-style of character presentation, pictures – actor names – character names, along with the proper background music and letter font, all of which just seemed to kickstart the whole show on a sensibly nostalgic tone. Stranger more is the fact that rarely had I ever sat through any of those “old time” movies before, since not a one had interested me in the least.

And yet the “feel” of this movie, the “look” of the entire piece, the songs, the black and white updated news footage from the time, the many groovy choreographed dance sequences, all seemed to resonate a flawless homage to the classics, and just won me over, dammit! It’s funny because I honestly do not prefer the word of the Bard to the words of Tarantino, since for one, I do not understand most of what Shakespeare is saying (mark me an ignoramus, but at least I’m honest), and two, I’m a child of the 80s…sniff, sniff. Pity me. Seriously though, my only reservations with this film actually lay within those areas. Granted, I did love the dances, the songs, the costumes, the settings, but you know the thin story line actually had to be driven along by at least some dialogue, and when the dialogue came, well…I just tuned out. Half of what was being said struck a foreign chord with me, so getting the gist of their conversations was the best that I could do. I also couldn’t help but notice the Alicia Silverstone factor, which just seemed out of place, to be sure. Not that she was necessarily bad in her role, but somehow, she just didn’t seem to belong there. But no biggie.

In the end, we accept the fact that these types of films aren’t exactly character studies or created solely on the merit of their story lines. They are generally based on the spirit of their convictions, the zip of their songs and the zap of their dances, and by golly, this movie struck gold on all those counts. Color me impressed, cause God knows I would be the first to tell you to keep me far and away from any musicals this side of the SOUTH PARK (9/10) movie, but listen to I, when I tell thee this…romance, show tunes, dance, enchantment, moonlight and even a little humor never hurt anybody. Drop your cynicism off at the door and enjoy.

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian

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