Friday, July 09, 2004

Film — Stage Beauty

It's Cambridge Film Festival time once again, opening with the UK premiere of the new Richard Eyre (Iris et al.) film, Stage Beauty.

The setting is the London Theatre in the 1660s, and the changeover from all parts being played by men, to the requirement of no cross-dressing by royal decree. Ned Kynaston — recorded by Pepys as the the most beautiful woman on stage before the decree — is left floundering while the new actresses are in the ascendant. It takes some dramatic licence, collapsing events into a short span, especially in the transition from the mannered acting of the stage at the beginning, to the highly naturalistic scene from Othello that concludes the film.

Inevitably it will attract comparison with Shakespeare in Love, given the setting and plotlines.

I found it a worthy piece of costume drama, but could have done without the predictable romance sub-plot (and the inevitable “Where's the fast forward button, this is so boring?” ever so coy sex scene). And at times the modern idiom grated — devotees of Mr Kynaston describe themselves as “fans”, and the leading players are called “stars”

Overall verdict — Mostly harmless.

[Now playing — Le Grand Retour — Yuki Kajiura]

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