As You Like It review

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Kenneth Branagh continues to work his way through Shakespeare’s CV with this unremarkable take on the Bard’s cross-dressing comedy, ostentatiously relocated to 19th-century Japan though wholly shot in the Home Counties. Ken’s conceit is to set the story in one of the Westerner enclaves that sprung up around that country’s treaty ports. Beyond an opening ninja raid and a bit of sumo, however, any Oriental flavour seems purely incidental – and this impression is underscored when the action moves to the Forest of Arden, looking much like a wood on any continent. Meanwhile, Branagh’s vision doesn’t stretch to broadening his choice of cast beyond the usual mix of homegrown hams (Brian Blessed, Richard Briers) and credibility-hungry Yanks (Bryce Dallas Howard as a spunky Rosalind, Kevin Kline’s melancholy Jaques).

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