In the Bleak Midwinter (A Midwinter's Tale) (1996)
When his professional career hits a lull, an actor attempts to revitalize his career by staging a production of Hamlet, directed by and starring himself. Director and star Kenneth Branagh would in fact release his own film version of Shakespeare's classic play a year later, but this comedy provides his fictional counterpart with far less in terms of production value. Lacking money and time, he recruits a rather motley group of drunks, incompetents, and oddballs, including a middle-aged female impersonator in the crucial role of Queen Gertrude. Given only three weeks of rehearsal, and an abandoned church in a remote town in the English countryside, this unlikely group nevertheless struggles valiantly to make theatrical magic. The film attempts to pay loving tribute to the madness that surrounds the staging of a play, with all of the backstage dramas, inevitable disasters, and unexpected triumphs, but the end result is often less amusing than it ought to be. The film was released in the United States under the title A Midwinter's Tale. ~ Judd Blaise, Rovi … More
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Critic Reviews for In the Bleak Midwinter (A Midwinter's Tale)
This small-scale, putatively comic meditation on the anxieties and joys of the theatrical life says nothing fresh about the artistic process and manages to be coy and grating in doing so.
A Midwinter's Tale" packs together so many characters and ideas that they crowd one another out, leaving enough room for plenty of chuckles but none for belly laughs.
Looked at coldly, as a piece of entertainment, it clearly doesn't satisfy. But as a personal statement from writer-director Kenneth Branagh, the film still isn't good . . . but it's interesting.
There are so many laughs here, so much theatrical temperament on display, that you can't help but embrace the picture, even with its obvious flaws.
[An] inoffensive trifle.
Excellent, hilarious bookend to Branagh's Hamlet. If you or someone you love is in theatre, you must watch.
One of Branagh's most charming works too little seen.
A nice viewing alternative to the usual Christmas pap, and goes well with a fireplace and a snowy December day.
Delivers a bittersweet portrait of the trials and surprising rewards that come with being part of a theatre company.
A seriously funny ensemble farce.
Although this is clearly a warmup for Branagh's full-length dramatic "Hamlet," at 100 minutes it's pleasant enough for whiling away a bleak midwinter night.
Unfortunately, it's hard to admire and mock without seeming simultaneously a nerd and an ingrate.
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