As You Like It

Kenneth Branagh, 2006.

Renowned for his popular interpretations of Shakespeare on film, Kenneth Branagh directed As You Like It for BBC/HBO. And while it might not have reached the popular success of his Henry V or Much Ado About Nothing, there is a lot to love in it, most notably Bryce Dallas Howard’s charming, believable and utterly beguiling Rosalind. Filmed on location in Kew Gardens, it is set in Japan after it opened its doors to Western trade and technology in the mid 1800s. Roughly analogous in setting to The Last Samurai, it too features samurai warriors and ninjas, as well as Kevin Kline’s superbly melancholic Jacques, Alfred Molina’s tail-coat-clad Touchstone, and Romola Garai’s gullible and injury-prone Celia. But the film belongs to Howard’s Rosalind, whether you believe her transformation into Ganymede or not. Her capriciousness, delight, glee, sadness, tenderness, affection and mercuriality are all tangible, and by its end you feel as though you too could love her. And in a moment of rare genius, Branagh’s epilogue – with Howard-as-Rosalind-as-herself – is one of the more effective translations from page to screen in this Shakespeare film. Treat yourself. You might just be surprised, and find it’s, well, just as you like it.