Midwinter's Tale, A

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +3

Content: -1 1/2

British actor/director Kenneth Branagh, noted for bringing Shakespeare to the big screen, directs this new comedy. Joe Harper (Nicolas Farrell) is an out-of-work director/actor helps his sister Molly (Hetia Charnley) put on a play in Hope, a small English town, to raise money to keep the local school and church open. The first problem is that Joe decides to do Shakespeare's "Hamlet," and plans to open this tale of murder and intrigue on Christmas Eve. The second problem is the theatrical misfits who show up for the audition. The Ophelia hopeful desperately needs glasses, a King Claudius wannabe is an old, bored codger, two men who play a wide range of bit parts, all with different, not very convincing accents, and a Queen Gertrude who really is a queen--a drag queen, that is. When this odd assortment arrives in Hope to put on the show, they discover they must live in the run-down church during rehearsals and eat mostly vegetarian food. Of course, things get worse before they get better which brings Joe, like a modern-day Hamlet, to his wit's end. Lots of quick, funny dialogue and even some slapstick enliven A MIDWINTER'S TALE, which will appeal to anyone who has ever been involved in amateur theatrical productions.

With "Queen" Gertrude around, the witty banter quickly degenerates into sexual innuendoes and mispeaks. Many bawdy comments that not even the great bard of Stratford Upon Avon would approve of pepper the comments of almost all the characters. Unlike this film, Shakespeare's dialogue never had to stoop to using many obscenities or profanities to let his characters express their pain or outrage. But surprising for its R rating, this movie has no violence, nudity or sex. As strange as these misfit actors are, they begin to grow on you and develop into likable people. As the project continues, they also come to like each other. One underlying message, however, seems a little misguided. All their lives seem to be healed just through this one experience, without any hint of spiritual guidance. Unfortunately, we do not see much of Shakespeare in this film. Rather, we are stuck with some low-grade sexual humor and unnecessary foul language.

Preview Reviewer: Greg Wilson
Sony Pictures Classics, 711 Fifth Ave., 38th Flr., NY, NY 10022-3109

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Several (9) times - Mild 2, Moderate 7

Obscene Language: Many (20) times - S-word 6, f-word 6, others 8

Profanity: Many (21) times - Regular 5 (C, G), Exclamatory 16

Violence: None

Sex: None

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Many times (references to intercourse, men's and women's genitals)

Drugs: Drunkenness several times, but not condoned

Other: Idea literature can

Running Time: Unknown
Intended Audience: Adults

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