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10 Things I Hate About You!

03 Apr

10 Things I Hate About You — directed by Gil Junger – Teen Comedy. “The Taming Of The Shrew” transposed to a Seattle High School.  97 minutes color 1999

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Some wild scenes with the great Allison Janney as the dirty-minded Guidance Counselor open this show, and I wish they had continued. What we do see and hear is a spritely-written piece played at a clip. What it is, of course, is an update of Shakespeare’s The Taming Of The Shrew. And the characters pleasantly keep the old names: Petruchio becomes Patrick, Kate and Bianca have the last name of Stratford, and Kate even has a recantation speech at the end, in the form of a parody Shakespearean sonnet. It’s quite sweet. We also have Heath Ledger as the lead, and one wonders why. He is an odd actor. Here as Petruchio he seems to have too much weight upon him, and I don’t mean physical weight. But he seems much older than the others. His face and his way are those of a mature male not of a high-school senior. And there is something heavy within him. I think it’s just a question of miscasting here, perhaps because he was an actor without wit. One thing that makes him sound older is that he had the most beautiful deep speaking voice one has ever heard, not always properly projected. He’s sexy and good looking in an unusual way. I know he was miscast in the Casanova picture, where wit and intelligence and flair are absolutely required, as are a very raffish and pro-active sexuality, which Ledger has not. Maybe he was just an interesting actor of limited means who was hard to cast. I don’t know. I wonder what he would have become had he lived. I wish he had. We see him no more, and in this film, just as in the original play, after the pre-scene, we see the naughty Allison Janney no more also. Alas!

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