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Movie tip: "Much Ado About Nothing"

Published August 01. 2013 4:00AM

The conceit of this film doesn't necesssarily sound promising: Set a Shakespeare comedy in modern-day California. Shoot it in black and white. Oh, and have Joss Whedon - who most recently helmed that explosion-fest known as "The Avengers" - direct it all. What a joy that it all comes together gloriously well. Even though the actors speak with American accents and a distinct lack of the usual theatrical flourish, they convey all the poetry of Shakespeare's words - and make it all eminently understandable. Whedon, whose brainchild this was, gives leading roles to actors who appeared in his TV shows ("Angel," "Dollhouse," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer") but haven't become big names. Amy Acker gives a star-making turn (if there is any justice in Hollywood, that is) as Beatrice - smart, funny, romantic. Alexis Denisof provides a potent match for her, as the sparring Benedick. Who needs big-budget behemoth flicks when a little film like this - shot in 12 days at the director's own house - is such an utter delight?

- KRISTINA DORSEY

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