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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television - Evan Wil­liams

IF you were Shake­speare, would you rather fall in love with Anne Hath­away or Gwyneth Pal­trow? In Shake­speare in Love (Thurs­day, 8.45pm, 7Two), di­rec­tor John Mad­den’s Os­car-win­ning ro­man­tic romp, Pal­trow is a clear win­ner. She plays Vi­ola de Lesseps, a young no­ble­woman who, dis­guised as a boy, suc­cess­fully au­di­tions for the part of Romeo in Shake­speare’s lat­est play. It’s all fic­tion, of course, and im­mensely en­joy­able, with Joseph Fi­ennes as a bois­ter­ously youth­ful and good-hu­moured Bard who doesn’t take long to dis­cover that his lat­est love and his new lead­ing man’’ are one and the same per­son. The screen­play, by Marc Nor­man and Tom Stop­pard, bris­tles with witty lines, and Ge­of­frey Rush is in fine form as the theatre owner Philip Henslowe, who con­sid­ers the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet much too gloomy for the com­mer­cial stage. Oth­ers in the top-line cast in­clude Colin Firth, Judi Dench, Tom Wilkin­son, Ben Af­fleck and Si­mon Cal­low.

And if that sounds like too much idle good fun, try 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Sun­day, 11.15pm, SBS One), a som­bre mas­ter­piece from Ro­ma­nia. It’s strik­ing how the shadow of com­mu­nism has be­come a per­verse source of in­spi­ra­tion for film­mak­ers in the old Soviet em­pire. I’m of Wolf­gang Becker’s Good­bye Lenin, re­vis­it­ing the hor­rors of East Ger­man com­mu­nist rule though the eyes of a dy­ing Bol­she­vik, and The Lives of Oth­ers, about the dark world of a Stasi se­cret po­lice­man. In 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, writer-di­rec­tor Cris­tian Mungiu traces the ef­forts of a teenage stu­dent in Ro­ma­nia to se­cure an il­le­gal abor­tion in the 1960s. The or­deal of Gabita (Laura Vasiliu) is ob­served with clin­i­cal con­cen­tra­tion, un­flinch­ing in­ten­sity and pro­found com­pas­sion.

The hero of Flushed Away (Thurs­day, 7pm, 7Two), an an­i­mated fan­tasy from the mak­ers of Shrek, is a pam­pered English mouse called Roddy St James (voiced by Hugh Jack­man) who lives in a posh house in Lon­don and is accidentally flushed down the toi­let to find a vast un­der­ground city amid the sew­ers. This proves to be more salu­bri­ous than it sounds, ev­ery­thing be­ing rather light and fan­ci­ful and largely con­structed from the de­tri­tus of the world above. Roddy meets Rita (Kate Winslet), a sewer-wise rat car­ing for her strug­gling fam­ily, and saves her from the clutches of the Toad (Ian McKellen), a crim­i­nal mas­ter­mind who has been nurs­ing a grudge against the world af­ter be­ing dis­carded as a pet in Prince Charles’s house­hold.

Since it was voted best film of all time in a Sight & Sound poll last year, I will be for­given for mak­ing an­other men­tion of Ver­tigo (Sun­day, 11.20pm, ABC1), Al­fred Hitch­cock’s haunting tale of hope­less pas­sion and the per­ils of mis­taken iden­tity. A mas­ter­piece cer­tainly. The best film ever? Who knows?

(M) ★★★★✩ Thurs­day, 8.45pm, 7Two ★★★★✩ Sun­day, 11.15pm, SBS One

(M) ★★★★★ Sun­day, 11.20pm, ABC1

(MA15+)

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