Twelfth Night
Entertainment: +2 1/2
Acceptability: +2

Shakespeare's classic play TWELFTH NIGHT is basically a comedy about mistaken identities. When Sebastian and Viola, twin brother and sister (Stephen Mackintosh and Imogen Stubbs), are separated in a disastrous shipwreck, both assume the other drowned. Viola is washed ashore on the coast of the fictional country of Illyria. To survive, she disguises herself as a young man and uses her musical talents to win a position on the staff of a wealthy young duke (Toby Stephens). Viola falls in love with the duke, who wants to marry beautiful Olivia (Helena Bonham Carter). But Olivia in turn falls in love with the disguised Viola. Some hilarious scenes feature noted actor Nigel Hawthorne playing Olivia's stuffy, humorless steward, Malvolio. Some of her other servants trick Malvolio into thinking Olivia yearns for him. The middle-aged bachelor makes a perfect fool of himself as he behaves like a lovesick cow. Ben Kingsley plays Feste, a musician and jester who ties the scenes together with his clever observations. The Shakespearean dialogue is difficult to understand, and some may find two hours of TWELFTH NIGHT excessively long. Nonetheless, the photography is beautiful, and the amusin' but confusin' plot will be good fun for most.

Some sexually suggestive dialogue and actions take place as the lovesick, elderly steward caresses the statue of a nude woman in one prolonged scene. Viola's gender switch creates sexual tension as she becomes attracted to the duke, who thinks she is a man. Olivia also actively pursues the disguised Viola, but there is no hint of homosexuality in any of these mistaken identities. When Viola changes into her male disguise, she pads the front of her trousers and binds her breasts. There might have been some Elizabethan swear words spoken, but if so, they were unrecognized. Violence, too is practically non-existent. One duel ends with no injuries, and the opening shipwreck scene is fairly intense as the twins are swept underwater in the fierce storm. Children will not enjoy TWELFTH NIGHT, and the film's sexually suggestive content earns it a PG rating.

Preview Reviewer: Mary Draughon
Distributor: Fine Line Features, 888 7th Ave., 20th Floor, New York, NY 10106

Crude Language: None
Obscene Language: None
Profanity: None
Violence: Few times Moderate (shipwreck scene, duel with no injuries)
Sexual Intercourse: None
Nudity: Once (statue of nude woman)
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: Few times (man caresses nude statue, makes suggestive remarks to young woman)
Drug Abuse: Some smoking; drunken man portrayed comically
Other: Girl dresses as man to save her life
Running Time:
Intended Audience: Teenagers and adults

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