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Movie Review: Stage Beauty

Alternate Title: Gender Bender

Story: Get thee to thy local theatre and catch this very entertaining film, anon!

It is 1660, King Charles II has returned to the throne after 20 years in exile and the days of men appearing as women on stage are drawing to a close. How Ned Kynaston, the best male as female actor of the day deals with his end of the line career is the crux of the tale.

Director Richard Eyre (Iris) does a brilliant job with the cast, the set, the pace and the general feel of the film. It is paced on the play Compleat Female Stage Beauty, by writer Jeffrey Hatcher, who also wrote the screenplay.

The film is appropriately bawdy and might remind you of Shakespeare in Love. There is gender bending, cross dressing and contains characters that are historically true. This film is much better than the Oscar wining Shakespeare.

Check it out. It is well worth your time and money.

Acting: Billy Crudup was simply sensational as Ned Kynaston. I have always said that he was a great actor whose time in the spotlight was long overdue. His performance is physical, intellectual and emotional. I bought his portrayal lock, stock and barrel. Claire Danes was also terrific as Marie. Yes, I know that their off-camera antics were fodder for the Hollywood gossip hounds, but I am trying to stay above the gossip. The truth is, they were both terrific in this film and their on-screen chemistry was palpable. The supporting cast was also brilliant.

Predilection: I like Billy Crudup and I don't know why he is not offered more of the parts that get offered to Johnny Depp.

Critters: Six King Charles II Spaniels (of course).

Visual Art: A visual cornucopia of a film.

Soundtrack: Delightful.

Theater Audience: A handful of delighted people. We all left with large smiles on our faces.

Drift Range: Pleased to report that I did not drift for a second.

Predictability Level: High

Oscar Worthy: I think it is high time that Crudup got an Oscar nod.

Nit Picking: No its to pick.

Big Screen or Rental: Give yourself a treat and go to the big screen. For some other Billy Crudup films try: Big Fish, Charlotte Gray, Almost Famous, Waking the Dead, Jesus' Son and Without Limits.

Length: Under two hours