The rather disappointing Branagh movie of Much Ado About Nothing was in part redeemed by Emma Thompson’s Beatrice, with its nuances of a Bronte-like independence conveyed mostly through tone and facial expression.
Emma Thompson radiates self-sufficiency and intelligence and good humor like very few actresses do. Her tongue is sharp, her furled brow is ironic and her carefully clipped words betray a quick mind and a solid will. She is no blushing maiden, but a matron comfortable with her strengths and in no need of salvation through marriage. She enjoys her freedom and in general, she is in search of a frolicking good time. Her marriage to Benedick (Branagh) at the end does not mark his taming or mastery of her, but the continuation of her self-governance as a woman with a mind and a life of her own. I agree with Bloom (and I can’t stop quoting the guy!) that through tone and facial expression she gives us so much–and she makes the part her own. Thanks to Thompson, Beatrice is a complex character: robust and flinty and joyous and dry all at the same time.