Tuesday, April 26, 2011

As You (Do not) Like It

A couple of rotten tomatoes for "As You Like It," a film version of the play made a few years ago that I just caught on video.  Thumbs up for the gorgeous hair, costumes, and sets -- the play's events are transported to Japan, and the textures are fabulous.  The Rosalind, played by Bryce Dallas Howard, had just buckets of strawberry blond waves and the clothes to set them off.  Romola Garai too - pale blond upswept do's to die for.

So what did I hate?  The play itself?  Not sure, because this was really the first production I've seen of this comedy.  I think I hated the stagnant direction and staging more than anything else.  Isn't the use of the camera supposed to give you all kinds of flexibility, fluidity, dramatic action?  Well there wasn't any.  All the camera showed was people standing still, reading their lines, and then moving across the space.  Stop, stand, talk.  Gesture.  Talk.  React to what the other person just said.  Move.  Stop.  Repeat.  If it was supposed to be kabuki-esque, that didn't come across.

No problems with the cast generally, assuming that they were standing still, delivering their lines at random levels of emotion and projection at the behest of the director.

And suddenly at the end, one character in costume walking through the "set" where you could see the actors' trailers and the crew bustling about?  Suddenly you go all Verfremdungseffekt?  Sorry, but I just didn't think it worked.