In the Bleak Midwinter (A Midwinter's Tale) (1996) - Rotten Tomatoes

In the Bleak Midwinter (A Midwinter's Tale) (1996)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

In the Bleak Midwinter (A Midwinter's Tale) Photos

Movie Info

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
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Michael Maloney
as Joe Harper (Hamlet)
Richard Briers
as Henry Wakefield (Claudius the Ghost and the Player
Mark Hadfield
as Vernon Spatch (Polonius Marcellus and First Gravedi
Nicholas Farrell
as Tom Newman (Laertes Fortinbras and messengers)
Gerard Horan
as Carnforth Grevilly
John Sessions
as Terry Du Bois (Queen Gertrude)
Joan Collins
as Margaretta D'Arcy
Celia Imrie
as Fadge
Jennifer Saunders
as Nancy Crawford
Julia Sawalha
as Nina Raymond (Ophelia)
Robert Hines
as Mortimer
Allie Byrne
as Tap Dancer
Brian Pettifer
as Ventriloquist
Patrick Doyle
as Scotsman
Shaun Prendergast
as Mule Train Man
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Critic Reviews for In the Bleak Midwinter (A Midwinter's Tale)

All Critics (26) | Top Critics (8)

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.

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

A palpable hit.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

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.

August 30, 2004
New York Times
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

[An] inoffensive trifle.

January 1, 2000
USA Today
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Washington Post
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for In the Bleak Midwinter (A Midwinter's Tale)


A brilliant comedic look into the lives of a rag tag group of actors stumbling upon the shakespearian stage. Featuring the directing talent of Kenneth Branagh, quick one liners, and possibly the most awkward audition scene in cinema (besides Waiting For Guffman of course).

Sean Michael Smith
Sean Michael Smith

Unusual comedy of pathetic English characters producing a bizarre terribly arty version of Hamlet. Quite amusing!

Frances Ann Ade
Frances Ann Ade

Kenny Branagh's film is flawed, the timing and pitch are off, but it's on my favorites list. I attribute this mostly to its purpose as a trip down memory lane for a particularly tragi-comedy turning point in my life. I was a few years done with having lived this film, and my old-school best friend Michael Maloney stars in this. He also informed me that there a couple of moments and a few smatterings of character traits which were based on me but refuses to divulge which ones. The bitch. Definitely for those of us who dedicated years to Shakespeare and the boards.

River Eirtree
River Eirtree

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