'Cymbeline' [Blu ray]
(Ethan Hawke, Dakota Johnson, John Leguizamo, Ed Harris, Milla Jovovich, et al / Blu ray / R / 2015 / LGF)
Overview: A gritty story of a take-no-prisoners war between dirty cops and an outlaw biker gang. A drug kingpin is driven to desperate measures.
Blu ray Verdict: Do you know what "Cymbeline" is or means? Nor me, but I soon found out, as it is actually a play by William Shakespeare! Also known as Cymbeline, King of Britain or The Tragedy of Cymbeline, this film is also Ethan Hawke's second Shakespeare movie adaptation, his first being 'Hamlet' in 2000.
And so, as it's been over 14 years since Director Michael Almereyda and Ethan Hawke collaborated together in the modern day adaptation of William Shakespeare's classical play, the aforementioned 'Hamlet,' this film was; thankfully, warmly received by critics. Once again, Almereyda decides to leave the dialogue untouched and change the setting to modern times for the adaptation of 'Cymbeline.'
The King (Ed Harris) of a biker gangster group known as Britain is upset that his daughter, Imogen (Dakota Johnson) has fallen in love with his protégé, Posthumous (Penn Badgley), who she secretly married. The two have sworn eternal love to each other, but the King's second wife, the Queen (Milla Jovovich), has other plans for Imogen. She wants her to marry his son, Cloten (Anton Yeltsin) so they banish Posthumous from their group.
Meanwhile the bikers have decided to stop paying tribute to the Roman Police Department and a war is about to breakout between the two groups. Posthumous has fled to his friend's house where he ends up meeting Iachimo (Ethan Hawke) and tells him all about his lover's chastity. Iachimo makes a bet with him claiming that he can seduce her and prove that she's not as pure as he believes her to be. He meets Imogen and is unsuccessful in his approach, but Iachimo fools Posthumous into thinking he did sleep with his lover and that is where the plot begins to take several unexpected twists.
I won't give any more away, but suffice to say that as much as the performances in this film aren't bad, and I like most of the actors here, the problem for me was that the adaptation didn't work at all. Not even John Leguizamo can redeem the film, despite how well he's played Shakespearean characters in the past, sorry. Ed Harris and Ethan Hawke are both extremely talented actors, but there was nothing they could do to engage me with the film. Unfortunately, and again, from my standpoint, I didn't care for them in this adaptation; but maybe you will. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Commentary with Screenwriter/Director Michael Almereyda, Actor Ethan Hawke, and Anthony Holden
Behind The Scenes of Cymbeline
Extended Cast Interviews