An eminently charming adaption of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” that manages to grind down the controversial and unpleasant elements of the original story into a heart-warming teen high school movie.
For the record, I think the primary story of the play was a farce, as indicated by the framing device so often left out in performances and adaptations, but either way, it’s controversies are undeniable.
This adaption sidesteps the issue by softening even Petruchio into a likeable character, played charmingly by Heath Ledger (so great to hear an Australian keep their actual accent in a film too).
It’s unfortunately rare to see a high school film like this have such sustained, coherent, witty, and engaging writing, but I suppose with source material like Shakespeare, there’s a much better chance. Still, I have to credit the writers of the film for doing a notably excellent job of distilling the best elements of the original play so well. It’s one thing to adapt a Shakespeare play into a modern setting, plenty of writers can do that, but it’s another to transpose and adapt the story beats and characters in such a way as to make them fit the cultural context in ways beyond the superficial. There’s a good reason this film was so successful, and is still so well-loved, and the excellent work of the writers in their fantastic adaptive work is an enormous part of that.
The other enormous part is the cast. The leads are all charming and fantastic in their roles, and feel properly authentic, which is no small feat for high school movies like this.
Definitely one of the best in its genre. I give it three and a half sailboats, and a set of pearls.