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Stage Beauty (2004)

tomatometer

64

Average Rating: 6.5/10
Critic Reviews: 39
Fresh: 25 | Rotten: 14

No consensus yet.

audience

78

liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 10,964

My Rating

Movie Info

The true story of two performers whose careers were changed forever by a shift in gender roles on the British stage comes to the screen in this adaptation of the play Compleat Female Stage Beauty by Jeffrey Hatcher. In London, in the latter half of the 17th century, Ned Kynaston (Billy Crudup) is a noted star of the legitimate theater with an unusual specialty -- at a time when it was considered unseemly for women to work as thespians, Kynaston specialized in female roles, and was described by

R,

Drama, Romance, Comedy

Jeffrey Hatcher

Mar 8, 2005

$0.7M

Lions Gate Films - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (132) | Top Critics (43) | Fresh (79) | Rotten (45) | DVD (13)

The attraction to Stage Beauty is that it is just as much a campy comedy as it is an elegant drama.

November 11, 2004 Full Review Source: Arizona Republic
Arizona Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's a Restoration romantic comedy that struggles with the romance and isn't nearly comic enough.

November 5, 2004 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
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Has a weird, compelling energy, fueled by a deliciously dynamic cast, a cheerfully bawdy and odd story line and a refreshing, impossible romance.

November 5, 2004 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
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Even if playwright Jeffrey Hatcher was a bit too tied up in his original play, there's no denying the wonderful wit at its center.

October 22, 2004
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

While Eyre's direction is somewhat squarely theatrical, his sense both of period and the theatrical milieu is powerful.

October 22, 2004 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Director Eyre brings a brisk energy and knowing eye to the period textures, atmosphere and supporting characters one expects in a drama-comedy unfolding by candlelight on backstages and behind palace walls.

October 22, 2004 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Danes, as usual, overplays her character's every emotion.

May 4, 2005 Full Review Source: Lessons of Darkness
Lessons of Darkness

"Stage Beauty" has the grace and charm of a great play. It has its acts, its drama and its comedy.

April 17, 2005 Full Review Source: Cinema Sight
Cinema Sight

A vapid confection.

March 11, 2005 Full Review Source: Charlotte Observer
Charlotte Observer

A promisingly playful piece that turns out to be more interested in pleasing the general audience rather than its own heart.

March 11, 2005 Full Review Source: european-films.net
european-films.net

It's Crudup's performance that takes the film from being dull and stage-like to exhilarating and entertaining.

January 25, 2005 Full Review Source: BlackFilm.com
BlackFilm.com

This is one of those roles that actors kill for, and Cruddup hits it out of the park.

January 21, 2005 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

...the kind of picture that comes with challenges but is not afraid to meet them - or indeed, overcome them - head on.

January 12, 2005 Full Review Source: Cinemaphile.org
Cinemaphile.org

Handles provocative issues of sexuality and gender with intelligence and grace

January 5, 2005

Stage Beauty pretends to be a celebration of acting, but in fact it's saying you'll be happiest if you go through life playing the most conventional role you can find.

January 4, 2005 | Comment (1)
Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)

... questions of sexual identity eventually take a subordinate position to a more obvious story about the origins of method acting.

December 27, 2004 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

It never amounts to more than middlebrow theater fare.

November 27, 2004 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

To Read review visit www.EmanuelLevy.com

November 14, 2004 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

A droll, tart-tongued film, brimming with comic and dramatic possibilities.

November 13, 2004 Full Review Source: EricDSnider.com
EricDSnider.com

All too often, this period comedy-drama takes itself far too seriously.

November 12, 2004 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

While the names and places are authentic, the byplay between Kynaston and Maria is not.

November 12, 2004 Full Review Source: Salt Lake Tribune
Salt Lake Tribune

A movie that recognizes the poetry in both Shakespeare and Benny Hill.

November 9, 2004 Full Review Source: Creative Loafing
Creative Loafing

Kudos for at least working Claire Danes' glaringly limited abilities into the storyline. Now if they could only do something about the sophomoric script and nasty mysogyny...

November 8, 2004
Philadelphia Weekly

At its worst, the film prioritizes its own seriousness (which it never achieves anyway) over any form of audience appeal (which is the best this material can aspire to).

November 7, 2004 Full Review Source: Nick's Flick Picks
Nick's Flick Picks

Richard Griffith was stellar as the lecherous Sir Charles Sedley. Ben Chaplin was good as the Duke of Buckingham. A jolly good show.

November 7, 2004 Full Review Source: Entertainment Spectrum
Entertainment Spectrum

Audience Reviews for Stage Beauty

The ultimate gender confusion/sexual identity movie. I found myself liking this a great deal more than the beloved Shakespeare in Love (which I don't understand), it deals with theatre history in a way that isn't corny. Billy Crudup's performance is almost scary, his female withdrawals were extremely believable. I would say that the only bad parts of the movie are the exaggeration of some characters and the fact that there are a ridiculous amount of pointless subplots going on.
February 12, 2011
ythelastman89

Super Reviewer

One of my favorite Billy Crudup movies (the other-- Almost Famous). He does a fabulous performance where he is sexy, beautiful, sad and the audience truly connects with him on his venture to finding himself. Claire Danes is a perfect counterpart in her role. I don't know whom to recommend this film to, because I think a it is either a love or hate film...I loved it!
November 8, 2010
itsjustme2004

Super Reviewer

I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. I really wasn't sure what to expect going in but I enjoyed it. It was a little hard to get into but it picked up and sucked me in after a while.
March 3, 2010
purplemegan

Super Reviewer

Stage Beauty is another adaptation of a play. Yawn? Well don't, because it also happens to make a highly successful transition from stage to screen thanks to the genius that is director Richard Eyre.

It tells the tale of Ned (Billy Crudup), a young actor who specialises in portraying women on stage. In a world where only men are allowed to tread the boards, Ned's "Desdemona" (from Shakespeare's Othello) is the closest thing 17th century audiences get to femininity in theatre. However, a young upstart in the form of Maria (played by Clare Danes) wants to change all that. She has a passion for drama and unfortunately the bisexual Ned. With the help of King Charles II (Rupert Everett), she may just get her wish, changing theatre forever, and hopefully pick up Ned on the way.

When thinking of the themes of the film, many people dismiss it as a clone of Shakespeare in Love. This is unfair- the film is more thought provoking, substantial and better acted than the aforementioned Oscar snaffler. It explores themes of sexuality and gender with insight and intelligence as well as telling (and, in fact enthralling us with) a love story. As previously referred to, the acting is exceptional, especially the two leads (Danes and Crudup) who shine. The supporting cast is strong too, with Richard Griffiths as a heterosexual prequel to his role in Withnail and I, Tom Wilkinson brimming with quiet intensity as Betterton and Everett hamming it up wonderfully as the King.

Even if it does end on a slightly trite note (not to give too much away, but its' "birth of method acting" shtick irritates), Stage Beauty is a funny, heart-warming and occasionally quite cerebral meditation on love and art. What more could any theatre, or film lover for that matter, want? And don't say Shakespeare In Love!
September 29, 2009
matertenebraum

Super Reviewer

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