As You Like It
This 2006 adaptation of the famous Shakespeare play, As You Like It, comes from actor/director Kenneth Branagh, the modern day Lawrence Olivier and never fails to deliver exactly what you would expect from him. For once, Branagh does not take an acting role, preferring instead to stay behind the camera and work closely with his actors to deliver some spectacular performances of the Bard’s words.
The storyline is familiar Shakespeare territory. Rosalind is the daughter of a Duke who has been banished from the kingdom so is raised at the court of his younger brother who took over his dukedom after the previous incumbent was banished. Unfortunately for her, she is also to be banished from the court, despite the fact that she has fallen in love with Orlando, one of the courtiers. Disguised as a boy, Ganymede, Rosalind and her two compatriots, Celia and Touchstone (the court’s fool) travel to the forest of Arden to encounter Orlando and Rosalind puts a devious and amusing plot into play to find out if he really does love her as much as she hopes.
It goes without saying that the script is great, there’s a reason why Shakespeare’s work has survived so long and is still so popular. And the cast is magnificent, rising to the challenge under some very skilful direction by Branagh. Brian Blessed, Alfred Molina, Adrian Lester, Kevin Kline, Janet McTeer, Richard Briers…the cast list reads like a rundown of the greats from both sides of the pond. Despite such high profile and powerful supporting cast, the real star is Bryce Dallas Howard as Rosalind, who brings a great sense of mischief to Rosalind’s portrayl of Ganymede. Blessed even gets to play two parts, both the expelled Duke and his treacherous and dangerous brother. If there s a flaw it is that Branagh’s adaptation has had to cut an awful lot of the original text to bring the movie down to an acceptable running time but the excisions are done with great skill and a respect for and understanding of the source material so he can be excused for this necessary evil. Sumptuously filmed , its a real treat for the eye and a great way to pass an evening in the company of some very fine actors.