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A Midsummer Night's Dream

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: A Midsummer Night's Dream

Starring: Kevin Kline, Michelle Pfeiffer
Director: Michael Hoffman
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 115 Minutes
Release Date: April 1999
Genres: Comedy, Romance

*Also starring: Calista Flockhart, Rupert Everett, Stanley Tucci, Anna Friel, Dominic West, Christian Bale, David Strathairn, Sophie Marceau

Review by Akiva Gottlieb
3 stars out of 4

There really is no need for me to mention it, but Shakespeare is hotter than ever. SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE won Best Picture, and more than a few teen movies are using the Bard as inspiration. We knew it wouldn't be long before we had another period piece Shakespeare adaptation. The film is Michael Hoffman's rich, opulent adaptation of WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE'S A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM.

This version of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM moves the setting to Italy towards the end of the 19th century. It is the story of one night when all sorts of unexpected twists occur involving a few couples falling in and out of love.

Demetrius(Christian Bale), is set to be wed to Hermia(Anna Friel), who actually is in love with Lysander(Dominic West). Since Hermia doesn't want to be forced into unwanted wedlock, she runs away into the forest with Lysander. But that is not before they tell Helena(Calista Flockhart), who is starved for Demetrius' affection, of their plans.

Helena then tells Demetrius of their flight, and he rushes into the forest, followed by Helena. It is there that all four of them encounter Puck(Stanley Tucci), a fairy who administers a love potion that will make a person fall in love with the next person he sees. Puck also works his magic on the fairy queen(Michelle Pfeiffer), who falls in love with an actor(Kevin Kline) who is turned into a donkey, while the fairy king(Rupert Everett) makes some observations of his own.

Michael Hoffman(ONE FINE DAY, RESTORATION) works wonders with a superb ensemble cast; the standouts being Pfeiffer, Kline, and Calista Flockhart, who takes a step away from "Ally McBeal". The film is shot wondrously on location by Oliver Stapleton(THE GRIFTERS, ONE FINE DAY), who makes the play seem anything but stagy.

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM is a fine film, but if there is a problem to be mentioned, it is the film's length. At 115 minutes, the movie is too long to just be taken as a light comedy, and there isn't much in the way of drama to hold a viewer's attention. Although I am unfamiliar with the play, there doesn't seem to be much original work added to this production, despite the change in location. But all in all, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM is a funny, lush tribute to the Bard's greatness...and newfound popularity.

Copyright 1999 Akiva Gottlieb

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