FILM / Critical Round-up

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The Independent Culture

'No one would say that this version is ideal, especially not as a piece of film. It makes its mistakes, and the performances are not all successful. But as a crowd-pleaser, Branagh's Much Ado is the genuine article and the usual British sneering would be out of place.' Derek Malcolm, Guardian.

'As for Benedick and Beatrice, there is little scope for improvement. Producer-director-star-adaptor Kenneth Branagh, after a talent search the length and breadth of his living room, cast Emma Thompson as the haughty love-spurning lady. The Oscar-fresh actress repays the kindness with a delicious performance: it manages like fine wine to be at once rich, intoxicating and amused at its own presumption.' Nigel Andrew, Financial Times

'The rollicking, too, so easily gets out of hand. When Richard Briers's Leonato announces 'The revellers are entering,' your heart sinks. The worst offender is Michael Keaton's grotesque, grimacing constable Dogberry: the film stops dead whenever he appears.' Geoff Brown, Times


'Ageing with humour and dignity on screen is not an art every male star can master. Yet the 63-year-old Eastwood already looks expert, shading his character of Frank Horrigan, Secret Service agent, with enough pain, guilt and self-deprecating jibes to keep the role distinctive.' Geoff Brown, Times

'Germany's Wolfgang Petersen joins the new generation of Hollywood action directors drafted from Europe. Like Paul Verhoeven and Renny Harlin, he has a mechanistic efficiency in action sequences and a Nordic delight in knife-twisting scenes of emotional stress or suspense. Would an American director, apart from Clint himself . . .portray Eastwood as quite such a racked Grunewald presence?' Nigel Andrews, FT

'The thriller is as shrewdly commercial as Much Ado, well made, if not as distinctively made, and has a story line just sufficient to cover its length. But, without Eastwood and a script which gives him little more to do than just stand there and look, it would have been fairly unmemorable.' Derek Malcolm, Guardian