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In the Bleak Midwinter (a.k.a., A Midwinter’s Tale) (1995).

December 23, 2008

Note: With this post, we’ll be taking a short holiday break. See you in the new year!

The Scoop:
A sort of upper-crust version of “The Full Monty,” this hilarious (though sometimes aggressively quirky) little film follows the travails a group of oddball actors who try to mount a Christmastime production of “Hamlet.” It is, of course, a colossally ill-thought out idea because, really, who wants to be that depressed on Christmas? But, as written and directed by Kenneth Branagh, it makes for a great, intimate film and a touching tribute to the struggles and idiosyncrasies of community theaters, whether in Britain or the U.S.

The cast of British theater veterans seems to be having great fun in this back-to-basics production by the usually over-elaborate Branagh. It’s easy to see Branagh’s attraction to this material, considering the many parallels between his life and the character of the director in the film. In fact, Branagh used this as the warm up for his wonderful uncut film version of “Hamlet.”

Best Line:
“Is this whole production going to be based on innuendo?”

Side Note:
Costars Michael Maloney, Richard Briers and Nicholas Farrell all went on to star in Branagh’s “Hamlet,” but in different roles than their characters play in this movie’s production of the play.

Companion Viewing:
“The Full Monty” (1997) and “Hamlet” (1996).

Venice Film Festival press conference transcript.

Take a Look:
The opening monologue:

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