Clare Peploe directs an adaptation of the French play by Marivaux, of deceptive identities and confused love, and gets her husband Bernardo Bertolucci to produce.Shakespeare, it’s not, and though the hijinx permeates a certain resemblance in concept and execution to some of the Bard’s more cavorting, frolicking follies, the language of this adaptation takes a hit, a debilitating deflation. Since there is an undisguisable modern re-routing of the language (however, not to the tune of Woody Allen’s A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy), none of the actors are able to join into a rhythm or pattern to the beats of conversation, let alone in their own dialogues. Mira Sorvino is the princess who has deviously tried to get an usurped prince to fall in love with her so she can rightfully return him to his throne. She exhibits a natural aura of flighty love, uncontrollable and twitterpated. Despite the androgynous nature of her character (or one of them), her zaftig is easily enough hidden via the normal androgyny of the period dress, but there is far too much weighted against Sorvino’s likelihood as a male for her to be passed off as one at all. A speechless encounter might be digestible, but the seduction of another female is out of the question. Peploe’s evanescent appearances of an alfresco audience are negated by the very untheatrical features of unsteady camerawork and jumpy, “dead air” editing. (Or is it “dead time”?) No matter — both alternatives are as pleasant as riding on rims.
With Ben Kingsley, Jay Rodan, Fiona Shaw and Rachael Stirling.[See it if you must.]