William Stevenson
October 25, 1996 AT 04:00 AM EDT

A Midwinter's Tale

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
performer
Joan Collins, Michael Moloney
genre
Comedy

We gave it a B

Perhaps Kenneth Branagh wrote and directed A Midwinter’s Tale, a black-and-white comedy about a ragtag production of Hamlet, as a sort of out-of-town tryout for his upcoming film version of the play. Whatever his motivation, this intimate backstage Tale feels right at home on video, and its eccentric cast of theatrical types — a hard-bitten agent (Collins), a flaky designer named Fadge (Celia Imrie), a klutz of an ingenue (Absolutely Fabulous‘ Julia Sawalha), and a tacky Hollywood producer (Ab Fab‘s Jennifer Saunders), among others — provide consistent laughs. Unfortunately, the Branagh-like director who also plays Hamlet (Othello‘s Moloney) is too dully earnest, and the other characters’ sotto voce bitchy remarks eventually give way to a sentimental finale. Still, theater buffs and fans of English humor will eat up this modest helping of ham acting. B

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