At the heart of Shakespeare's comedies is a sense of heightened vitality. That is certainly true in Kenneth Branagh's lively screen version of Much Ado About Nothing. This is a movie that simply exudes exuberance.

When Don Pedro and his officers return from war, they enter the governor's villa as if it were paradise on earth. Love is in the air for two couples in particular. Young Claudio and Hero seem destined for each other but are pulled apart by treachery. Benedick and Beatrice bicker and argue against marriage until they are tricked into confessing their feelings.

Much Ado About Nothing sparkles with two bright and buoyant performances. Kenneth Branagh wears four hats as director, adaptor, producer, and actor. His Benedick is a proud and lonely fellow who turns giddy under the influence of love. Emma Thompson is enchanting as Beatrice, an intelligent and feisty woman whose wit is sharp as a rapier. When these two characters declare their affection for each other in a chapel, the moment is tender and joyous.

Branagh ends Much Ado About Nothing on a high and holy note with a marriage dance that goes on and on and on. Despite all the treachery and trickery, love triumphs. The moral message is clear: life is the cause of universal delight!