January 20, 1996
Opening the Sundance Film Festival was "Midwinter's Tale", Kenneth
Branagh's little movie following his big flop, "Mary Shelly's Frankenstein".
And wouldn't you know he is taking a dry look at theater, acting, movies,
and through those, life. With a cast not too familiar to the American audience
and a production of "Hamlet" at the center of the story, Branagh
takes chances that only an independent studio would allow.
Michael Maloney puts together the odd assortment of out-of-work and desperate
actors to do "Hamlet" in an English village called...Hope. Alternately
acid and sugar, this is as witty and well-written as any of the best. Maloney
excels at playing off against each of his eccentrics as they progress from
auditions to opening night. As Branagh's protÈgÈ, he has done
well in "Othello" and is currently shooting "Hamlet"
The two actresses most recognizable to most Americans are Joan Collins,
who really can manage more than a Dynasty level of acting, and Jennifer
Saunders of Comedy Central's "Absolutely Fabulous". I almost wish
Saunders had a larger role but she adds her own element of rapid-fire repartee.
Look for "Midwinter's Tale" to open nationwide in art house theaters
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