Film Review – Troilus and Cressida (1981)

Apologies for lateness on the film reviews, fair reader. I had some access issues with my library but everything is hunky-dory now. Thus, I will attempt to fit in all of the film reviews I owe you within the next two weeks. However, please note that the film review for Coriolanus will be delayed as I’m planning to review the new Ralph Fiennes adaptation which isn’t released until later in August.

Moving on to Troilus and Cressida, as is the new rule for Complete Dramatic Works of Shakespeare films, I only watched one act, in this case Act IV. And surprisingly, it was pretty decent. Before I dish about the acting though, a couple notes. First, although the play is set in ancient Troy, the costumes are Elizabethan (which is how Shakespeare would have done it, but let’s have some imagination BBC). Also, the sets are somewhere in the middle range of possibilities for this film series with buildings actually looking relatively building-esque (although not very ancient Troy) but the “outdoors” being a dismal attempt at making a stage look like outside.

The cast is decent with Troilus being one of the stand-out actors. Also noteworthy for those of you familiar with the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice (yes, the one with Colin Firth) is that Ulysses is played by Mr. Bennet. If that doesn’t serve as a hint, my major complaint about this cast is that everyone is too old to be playing their characters (except for Cressida). Major casting offeders are Paris for his hideous beard (and I’m a girl who is not opposed to facial hair), Ajax for not being the mountain of muscle he’s supposed to be, and Hector for being particularly too old.

So what made the act worth watching? It was entirely about Troilus and Cressida who are absolutely adorable. I chose Act IV as it includes their very cute morning after scene as well as Cressida being hauled back to the Greek camp. The pair of them are very sweet and Troilus in particular is thoroughly believable as being in love with Cressida. However, it should be noted that from the moment Cressida receives the news that she is going to be sent away from Troilus, she spends the rest of the scene wailing and delivering her lines through tears. While an acceptable acting choice, it could be irritating to some viewers. I think Troilus’ sweetness cancels it out. My only complaint is that no hint is given through visual cues during Act IV as to why on earth Cressida decides to break her vow to Troilus. I was almost tempted to watch Act V to see how the adaptation dealt with it, but the key word is almost.

Troilus and Cressida

Cressida and Troilus, much more clothed then when I saw them in Act IV.

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