Beliefnet
Idol Chatter

shrew_idol.jpgI know what some of you are thinking: With the thriller “Zodiac” out on DVD this week as well as the recently released, family-friendly, Hallmarkish “Sweet Land,” how could I make something to do with Shakespeare my DVD pick of the week? Well, it’s pretty simple, really. “Shakespeare Retold” is not some fancy, shmancy version of the work of the world’s most famous playwright. In fact, you don’t have to know a thing about iambic pentameter or the original plays themselves to appreciate these four totally modern vignettes oh-so-loosely based on the bard.
The stories in “Shakespeare Retold” are funny, smart, and skewer everything in modern culture from politics to media to the complexities of familial relationships, with a refreshing lack of cynicism and–for the most part–raunch.
Since each episode on the two-disc set is an hour to an hour-and-a-half long–and some are decidedly better than others–feel I need to steer you toward the best of the four adaptations, which would be “The Taming of the Shrew.” This version of “Shrew” is set in modern day London where a snarky woman named Katherine is a saavy, ruthless politician who is trying to become the new prime minister. However, her spoiled actress younger sister keeps stealing Katherine’s limelight, and an unexpected romance with a slob she meets at a party messes up her plans for global domination.
The entire story unfolds with the look and feel of “Bridget Jones’s Diary.” (In fact, Shirley Henderson, who plays Katherine, also played one of Bridget’s friends in that movie.) But “Shrew” is in some ways even more insightful, as it dissects the insecurities of an intelligent woman trying to balance her life priorities with some degree of integrity. Henderson is just fabulous at portraying Kate as both hateful and empathetic. Henderson and her foil Rufus Sewell, who plays Petruchio, have a good old-fashioned screen chemistry reminiscent of old Cary Grant movies.
This version of Shakespeare is so much better than any of the romantic comedies at the box office lately (the adaptation of “Midsummer Night’s Dream” is also clever) that I encourage you to settle in and have a date night ( or a girls’ night in ) and enjoy a new twist on a timeless tale.

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