Love’s Labour’s Lost
Love’s Labour’s Lost (2000) – Originally written January 2004
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
All too often, Hollywood’s Shakespeare adaptations entertaining pieces of cinema. Beautifully shot they are well performed and faithful to the text. Films including Branagh’s “Henry V” and 1993’s “Much Ado About Nothing” are powerful pieces of work. Watching “Love’s Labour’s Lost” therefore, it’s such a huge disappointment for expectation to be so hideously thrown to waste. Sadly “Love’s Labour’s Lost” is awful! The King of Navarre (Alessandro Nivola) and his friends have forsaken drink and women for three years to focus on their studies. Plans begin to fall apart however when the enigmatic Princess of France (Alicia Silverstone) and her entourage arrive. Soon love is in the air and philosophy is off the Prince’s mind.
From the start, you realise that this film is not quite Shakespeare. Cleverly relocated into a 1930s musical by Ken Branagh, the plot is still there and the script remains, but now it has been sacrificed in favour of dire musical taste. Classics like “The Way You Look Tonight”, “Let’s Face The Music and Dance”, “I’m in Heaven” are all destroyed by weak singing and a strong feel that they just don’t belong here.
Aside from weak singing, we are also treated to an increasingly large number of awkward performances by regular stars. Ken Branagh and friends might enjoy making this film, but they provide us with a stomach turning collection of roles.
The main eight actors (four men & four women) are all equally dire, and the only positive on their behalf is a vast improvement on the truly dreadful Timothy Spall.
In fact, only one individual leaves the film worthy of any praise and that’s the consistently magnificent Nathan Lane. Lane has proved over the years that he is a comedy genius and in this feature he once again adds an air of humour to the jester Costard.
There’s little else to be said really. “Love’s Labour’s Lost” deserves mild praise for Branagh’s original take on an old tale. Unfortunately though, that’s where the positives end. Weakly acted, performed, sang and constructed, “Love’s Labour’s Lost” is perhaps the weakest Shakespeare adaptation of the last forty years. It should be avoided like the plague and should never have been made. A poor, disappointing choice by Branagh and here’s hoping his next effort is better.