Love's Labour's Lost - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Love's Labour's Lost Reviews

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March 13, 2016
Shakespeare meets the American Songbook. What's not to like with an experienced Shakespearean director in Branagh..
½ August 31, 2015
I think you either love or hate this movie. I loved it! The Shakespeare play part of the movie is very abridged and the gaps left are filed in with faux newsreel footage and 1930's song and dance. Somehow it all works and brings you into the spirit of Love's Labour's Lost and makes this comedy (which is considered flawed and not one of Shakepeare's best) understandable and accessible.
½ August 26, 2015
Surprisingly light on substance.

A Kenneth Branagh written-and-directed adaptation of the Shakespeare play. Set in WW2 for the movie, The King of Navarre and his three best friends have sworn off wine, women and song for three years, in the interests of studying. But then the beautiful princess of France, and her equally-lovely ladies-in-waiting arrive, and their oaths are quickly and sorely tested...

Fun and funny at times but ultimately quite empty. It is short to begin with - about 85 minutes. Then you have the fact that this version is a musical and the amount of actual movie time is even shorter. In the end it just seems so full of empty schmaltz, fluff and padding. Reasonably moving ending though.

On the subject of the music, I generally dislike musicals but the choice of music here is pretty good: George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Kern and Hammerstein, Irving Berlin. While I would still have preferred no musical numbers - it just wrecks any plausibility and continuity - it could have been a lot worse.

Decent cast - Branagh, Alicia Silverstone, Alessandro Nivola, Natascha McElhone, Emily Mortimer, Nathan Lane, Timothy Spall - who put in solid performances. Don't know what Matthew Lillard is doing there though (note that I didn't include him in the "decent cast" list). He is conspicuous by his lack of acting skills and should stick to C-grade frat farces.
½ April 27, 2015
Weird and boring and cliché and pretty stupid.
½ October 30, 2014
It's an okay movie, but lacks benefit from the Shakespeare story.
March 8, 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?
½ June 24, 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.
October 15, 2012
The problem that I had with this film is that Branagh, tries to turn a Shakespeare play into a musical / comedy ala Ginger Rogers that it ends up looking like flat mashed potatoes with out gravy.
½ 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.
½ May 9, 2012
Usually I love Shakespeare movies directed by Kenneth Branagh, but this movie not so much. Yes Kenneth Branagh does a decent job directing this movie and his performance was pretty good as well, but unfortunately the rest of the cast is just awful. Alessandro Nivola, Alica Silverstone, Natascha McElhone and Matthew Lillard were all just terribe, they played shitty roles, they never once entertain you and they had no chesmistry with each other. I am very disappointed because I love Kenneth Branagh and this one wasn't so good, but oh well he still has other great movies out there. So this movie Love's Labour's Lost is not the greatest, it's poorly written, poorly acted and honestly if Kenneth Branagh had nothing to do with this movie it would have been much worse.
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.
April 2, 2012
The acting was well done with the Shakespeare lines but the musical numbers distracted me and must viewers of this film from the plot.
½ March 16, 2012
It seemed like a good idea but for some reason it just didn't come together for me.
February 25, 2012
I really enjoy most Branaugh movie adaptations of Shakespeare plays, but this one, with the pre-WWII muscial numbers thrown in, was just... silly.
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?"
½ September 17, 2011
Nice try, and a really interesting idea. A lot of it works. The 1930s provide the perfect setting, the music is great (and well chosen), the script is great, but there's something missing. Perhaps all the clever ideas and direction get in the way of the play's power.
September 12, 2011
All the elements I usually love are here: vibrant 1930s costuming, Gershwin music, Branagh, Timothy Spall, and did I mention Shakespeare? Instead of a clever, comical, creative and fresh take on one of Shakespeare's lesser known works we instead receive a bizarre mismatch frantically performed by actors who are in way over the heads: Mathew Lillard, Alicia Silverstone and Alessandro Nivola - I'm looking at you. A reprieve goes to Nathan Lane for actually being funny and appearing to understand the meaning behind his lines.
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.
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