Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night (Trevor Nunn, 1996) Helena Bonham Carter, Richard E. Grant, Imogen Stubbs, Steven Mackintosh, Nicholas Farrell, Sidney Livingstone, Ben Kingsley, James Walker, Nigel Hawthorne, Mel Smith, Imelda Staunton, Toby Stephens, Alan Mitchell, Peter Gunn

I watched this one night, and the 1980 BBC telemovie the next. I hoped that the earlier John Gorrie-directed version, with Felicity Kendall etc., would restore the Shakespeare-written play which Trevor Nunn had ignored. But it was not to be. Stuck inside a TV studio, and with no interest in poetry, Gorrie's production fell flat.

Back to the 1996 future: Trevor Nunn seems to me to be a theatre director who thought he could make a film based on the play (he has a solo card credit for "screenplay") by paying attention only to the dramatic potential of the story, with occasional moments of cinematic display. Bad decision.

Most of the script is written in iambic pentameter, Trev. It's poetry – not nouvelle fkn vague. Nor kitchen sink neither.

Executive summary: the twins don't look alike; Richard E. Grant looks like someone waiting for direction; Felicity Kendall is cute (she can't help it) but hasn't yet learnt that that break in her voice is her best (only?) asset; Ben Kingsley, being too important to actually be a part of this production, is a time-traveller from the 21st century who drops in to say his character's lines; Mel Smith is a disgusting visitor from some horror film. Only Nigel Hawthorne gives a performance which is both artistically rich and has something to do with the text.

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Garry Gillard | reviews | New: 19 July, 2023 | Now: 19 July, 2023