Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Miss in Her Teens: Movie Review

A 1700s play complete with Old English dialogue and antiquated situations.

“Miss in Her Teens” is an 18th Century set British production of the same-titled 1747 play by David Garrick. It’s a comedy about the young lady Biddy Belair (Tori Hart) and her many suitors. Her betrothed is off to war but there’s a whole bounty of men fighting for her affections. Thus begins a 1700s comedy of affairs driven by light-hearted humour of selfishness, rumours and misunderstandings. 2014

Directed by: Matthew Butler

Screenplay by: Matthew Butler, Tori Hart

Starring: Tori Hart, Adam Alexander

Viewers will need to be well acquainted with English Renaissance (1500-1660) and the Neo-Classical Period (1660-1798) of British literature. The dialogue is very authentic Old English (presumably taken directly from the play) and uses a lot of common techniques of the time, like speaking directly to the audience. I am not familiar with the play, but those who are will get more out of it.

It can be seen as Jane Austen meets William Shakespeare. Stylistically, it’s very similar to Shakespeare’s comedies or farces like “Much Ado About Nothing” or a “Midsummer Night’s Dream”. Story-wise, it includes more of the themes of love and standing in society (Biddy is worth fifteen thousand pounds, which makes her very desirable) often included in Jane Austen’s stories.

To me it lacks the timeless-ness often associated with classical works of that time period that have remained popular today. Shakespeare’s adaptations can still seem very relevant and entertaining in today’s society, whereas this play was very 1700s in its approach. I couldn't find any elements that related to today's world which can make the film less entertaining than its more popular counterparts. Understanding it can be a major hurdle; however, it runs very quick and is whimsical and comic in its telling. The comedy isn't relevant today, the language is not directly relatable, so we're left with something which is obviously a farce but not entertaining.

As said this is adapted from a play and this entails a lot of elements some of which were done well. Despite the confined and limited sets of a play, a film can be much larger in scope/location and this transition handled that very well. For a modest budget, it was shot beautifully and made it cinematic in presentation. It also wasn’t acted like a stage production and these thespians had fluid delivery of lines that did not come out of the modern world. It was also well paced which is another sign of a good adaptation, even if the material itself can leave the audience wanting.

“Miss in Her Teens” will have a very small audience, but I’m sure if its target audience finds it, they will enjoy it.

Similar Titles:

Much Ado About Nothing (2012) - Merging 1598 with 2013 in comedic seamlessness.

Tamara Drewe (2010) - A comedy of affairs.

Austenland (2013) - The good and bad of a Jane Austen theme park with clever romance and cute comedy.