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Love's Labour's Lost Reviews

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Apeneck F

Super Reviewer

April 27, 2012
Branagh's idea is to conjoin Shakespearean comedy with 1930's era Hollywood musicals ... what could go wrong? At first I felt as if I were having a tooth pulled, without novacaine. The performances? I remembered the Freudian nightmare of appearing in public naked and finally concluded the cast was far, far braver than I. By the finale it didn't hurt as bad ... but no one will be pleased with this. Only Nathan Lane manages to escape completely unscathed.
Jens S

Super Reviewer

June 15, 2009
One of the kind of films that you wished you could love more than you actually do. Because they don't really do anything wrong. They take Shakespeare's play and put it into the 1930s musical era, with all the singing, dancing and water ballet that comes with it. The songs are more or less familiar, some performances really fun and good, others somewhat boring. The cast is great, only Matthew Lillard feels like the odd man out, the set pieces and design rather lovely. It's hard to say why the film didn't work for me anyway. Sometimes it was hard to keep track why things were happening the way they turned out, and I usually didn't have a problem with Shakespeare's language. I felt a bit let down after all, only the ending was rather sweet. I suppose it's one for Musical or Shakespeare fanatics, everyone else feel free to skip. Sadly.
Lanning :

Super Reviewer

November 26, 2008
Okay, so this Branagh go at Shakespeare may leave out a lot of the Bard's words, but the spirit is definitely there. Strictly speaking, in the classic sense, comedy does not necessarily equal ha-ha funny. To put it in truly simplistic terms, comedy has only to follow a certain path. With tragedy in the classic sense, there is the trajectory of rise and fall, whereas with comedy, there is fall and rise -- with or without yucks. One need only compare Branagh's attempt with that of the BBC's complete dramatic works of Shakespeare attempt, to see that Branagh has infused the play with the proper spirit, the lively humor it should have. The BBC attempt is so droningly unpleasant -- although much truer to the text -- that it feels in the aftermath like a disheartening tragedy. As I've said before, I hope Branagh does all of Shakespeare's plays before he blows out the candle. Every one of his productions breathes vibrant bright life into the plays, closer to the text or not. I think if Shakespeare saw this adaptation, he'd love it.
Alice S

Super Reviewer

June 15, 2008
So bad, it's almost good...but then I regain consciousness and have to put on Singin' in the Rain to get that murky taste out of my brain.

Super Reviewer

May 24, 2008
Love's Labour's Lost, is a good musical directed by Kenneth Branagh. A light haerted musical that takes place in the 1930's where things are care free. A few men become attreacted to a few dames and it continues with many nice dance numbers.

Super Reviewer

November 9, 2007
This is an interesting film in the Shakespeare Company collection. Love the music. Love the noir-esque!
July 28, 2012
I watched this years ago and the only thing that I remember about it are the ridiculous and numerous musical dance numbers. The story wasn't too awful but the singing and dancing was pretty bad.
March 31, 2008
The colors are nice. The music is nice but this piece is not as good as Brannaugh's other productions.
December 27, 2007
I really enjoyed this film and thought it was a magnificent effort by Branagh, but it's definitely an acquired taste.
October 7, 2007
My least favourite of Kenneth's directing/starring in sort of films. Although many of the songs were rather catchy, the play just isn't one of the Bard's best. Can't really blame Ken for that. I love "I'd Rather Charleston" and any song Nathan Lane sung. He was fantastic. xD
August 10, 2007
One of my all time favorites! I could watch it over and over! The actors all ACTUALLY sang their parts. To Irving Berlin and Cole just can't go wrong!
January 1, 2007
this isnt a lot like shakespeare. but this movie is funny. they had a lot of fun making it. watch it with your family. and the outtakes are funny. theyre even funnier than the movie i think.
October 10, 2006
Love how they put such a great twist on thie shakespearian play...the music goes with it SOOO well...keneth did an AWSOME job....great movie
September 18, 2006
Big, bold movie musical version of Shakespeare's comedy is good but not for everyone. The point-of-no-return moment is the first song: if you're not into it by the end of the song, you may as well stop watching.
February 13, 2014
Yes, sometimes it's uneven. Yes, Alicia Silverstone is ehhh. But this is hilarious brilliance of Shakespeare, Cole Porter, and Branagh. What's better than that?
March 3, 2013
Despite rather bland dancing, the sometimes undercooked plot that feels like a lesser version of 'Much Ado About Nothing' and the lack of a full blown ending setpiece, there's a charm and likeability to Branagh's fusion of Shakespeare and Old Hollywood Musicals, thanks to a game cast obviously having fun in their roles, many of whom hold a tune really well, colourful Technicolor-esque sets and visuals, and of course, the songs themselves are still as fun and timeless as ever.
January 31, 2012
exceptionally mediocre!
September 20, 2011
I really wanted to be entertained last night and found this film -- that I had not heard of before -- on hulu last night. This summer, I saw the actors of Shakespeare & Co., dressed in Gatsby Era clothes for Romeo and Juliet and, just recently, I rewatched the Ian McClellan Richard III on youtube (yeah to the concept but boo to youtube as a vehicle for a viewing feature length films) which is famously set in the 1930s, I was open to Branaugh's concept.

First of all, Branaugh's ego often gets in his way. What other man works harder to make his average appearance dashing and handsome than Branaugh? If he showed off less and paid more attention to detail -- at least in this film -- he might have pulled this conceit off.

Second, I love the music of Porter, Gershwinet al. I do not love the fact that the cast contained only one passable singer. I also do not love the fact that Branaugh's voice seemed dubbed a couple of times. I also love dancing. The choreography here was clunky and simplistic. I accept that it had to be as the actors were not dancers. The only cast member who acquitted himself well as a dancer was Adrian Lester. ALright, but I accept that there had to be compromises made for the sake of the production. However, why in the world did the movie show case Nathan LAne singing "There's No Business Like SHow Business" in the currently preferred ballad-style? I'm a Nathan LAne fan and his rendition was fine, but, the song itself was ill-placed in the production. FUrthermore, the song is problematic for me. I don't simply hear Ethel Merman's shouting vibrato but MARTIN SHORT'S IMITATION OF ETHEL MERMAN'S VIBRATO EVERY TIME MY EARS ARE ASSAULTED BY THAT SONG.

Third, I hated the women's costumes. What were those dip-dyed, look alike dresses the female leads wore about? I am willing to accept that the three supporting actresses were ladies-in-waiting to the Princess of France, but, couldn't the kingdom of France dress them better than that? The men, however, looked fabulous. But, then, there is nothing like a fit man in tails, is there?

Fourth, the critics seemed to savage Alicia Silverstone as the romantic lead. Why? I thought she struck the right note for the production. This is an ingenue role. The play is froth, whether it is staged as an English Renaissance piece or a Europe tottering on the brink of war piece. The leading lady here is supposed to be a trickster. She's a gossipy "bright young thing," a lady of beauty, fashion and fun. That's what I saw Alicia Silverstone play (and I don't think I've seen any of her other movies). Furthermore, I am rather critical of American actors who swallow the Shakespearean dialog (Bill Murray in what people call "the Ethan Hawke Hamlet"). I pay attention to how an American film star (as opposed to an actor) speaks SHakespeare and I thought Silverstone's careful diction enabled her to deliver the lines well.

Fifth, on the other hand, I found Branaugh boring. He sounded like Benedict in his superior production of Much ado ABout Nothing. ALright, some of the problem is that SHakespeare wrote 38 plays (and I am not an anti-Avonian). The plays are all of piece. You find the dialog repeats itself, which is why I am often hesitant to read more than one book by the same author: most minds think in one way. I also thought the eaves dropping scene looked like Branaugh's Hamlet, but, then most minds . . .

Sixth, I did find a criticism of the small roles played by some great character actors/seasoned Shakespeareans. I agree. I seek out Branaugh films because Richard Briers always steals the show. I will grant that as this play focuses on young people and that those revered actors were too old for bigger roles. Still, more Briers would have been welcome.

After all that, I love taking Shakespeare and setting him in all manner of places and times. This is a concept that might have worked had it been done in a lower key. Rather than having the entire cast hoof when they aren't dancers, why not suggest the dancing? Or why not cast the likes of Kristin Chenoweth, who can both sing and act, and who, as a Broadway veteran, can probably dance in a passable fashion? Besides, at 4', 11", Chenoweth would have made the male cast members look as tall as they should be according to American musical conventions.

Which brings up my final point: Why the sourness toward the 1930s musical concept? Aren't the artsy types still enamored of the "homage?"
Greg S.
August 31, 2011
This is one of my family's favorite movies. I don't think it was ever intended to be a virtuoso dancing or singing vehicle, instead I think it was intended to be an experiment, to see if Shakespeare can be fun the way some of the 30's musical comedies were fun. For us anyway, it works very well.
August 30, 2011
An odd combination of styles that while jarring at first, carries a charm intensified by Branagh's passion that won me over. If you let go of your expectations set by Branagh's previous Shakespeare adaptations, Love's Labour's Lost is worth seeing.
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