Lawrence Frascella
August 08, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Henry V

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
PG-13
runtime
138 minutes
performer
Kenneth Branagh, Derek Jacobi, Brian Blessed, Judi Dench, Emma Thompson
director
Kenneth Branagh
distributor
MGM
genre
War, Drama, Historical

We gave it a B

(Through Aug. 10) This year, Shakespeare in the Park has traded its summer-reading approach to the Bard — epitomized by 2002’s water-slide rendition of Twelfth Night — for welcome grit and relevance. Henry V follows a frat-boy prince-turned-king who wages a possibly unjust war to, at least in part, prove himself a leader. (Sound familiar?) Director Mark Wing-Davey sets a tantalizingly ambiguous tone that allows us to draw our own conclusions about Henry’s power plays: His ideas can be incisive — a meeting of Henry’s three-piece-suited cabinet underscores the concept of government as corporation — but they can also be a whopping distraction (the Monty Python-like use of cast members as horses). Luckily, Liev Schreiber’s poised and complex Henry cuts a sharp line through the clutter. (212-539-8750)

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