Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Movie Review - Cymbeline

Cymbeline (2015)
Starring Ethan Hawke, Ed Harris, Milla Jovovich, John Leguizamo, Penn Badgley, Dakota Johnson, and Anton Yelchin
Directed by Michael Almereyda

Text from the opening moments of Cymbeline tells us the following about one of Shakespeare's lesser-known tales:  For years Cymbeline (Ed Harris), King of the Briton Motorcycle Club, has maintained an uneasy peace with the Roman Police Force.  The Queen (Milla Jovovich), Cymbeline's second wife, has her own agenda.  But she's losing hope that her son Cloten (Anton Yelchin) will pair up with the King's only daughter, Imogen (Dakota Johnson).  Without consulting her royal parents, Imogen decides to marry Posthumus (Penn Badgley), Cymbeline's penniless protégé.  The marriage triggers the King's rage, setting in motion a series of disastrous events.  But fortune brings in some boats that aren't steered...  I presume that the unsteered boat is Iachimo (Ethan Hawke), an acquaintance of Posthumus who sets up a wager that if he can prove to have taken Imogen's virginity he'll win a coveted ring of Posthumus's, but if he doesn't succeed, he'll have to give Posthumus money and a sword.

Quite frankly, Cymbeline feels like an amalgamation of many of Shakespeare's other works and the placement of this particular film adaptation into modern times as is written and directed by Michael Almereyda simply adds to the confusion in tone.  After we grow accustomed to the Shakespearean language (which always takes a little bit of time), the general plot of the play/film lays itself out somewhat clearly.  However, the ultimate problem with the flick is that the character of Iachimo seems sorely out of place and, seeing as how his bet with Posthumus is the integral cog to setting the plot in motion, this causes issues.  Attempting to steal a woman's virginity may have been radical in 1600s England, but by placing this story in a modern setting, this key plot point seems ludicrously childish and silly.

Although Dakota Johnson and Penn Badgley are actually quite good (and given the cast they may not seem at first glance to be the members who would really shine), nearly everyone else feels as if they're overacting, upping the dramatics in order to make us feel like we're watching "SHAKESPEARE" in ALL CAPITALS!  While I'll always appreciate a Shakespearean cinematic adaptation for simply existing, this one just doesn't work.  Being unfamiliar with the play itself, the fault may lie moreso with the original work than the film, but as it stands, there are cinematic problems running rampant here as well.

The RyMickey Rating:  D+

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