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Crippled Inside

Shakespeare's most malevolent monarch is marvelously remade for the movies

On the other hand, Shakespeare likely would be delighted with the smashing supporting cast that Loncraine has assembled. In addition to Scott Thomas (first among equals), Wood and Broadbent, the list of notables includes Nigel Hawthorne (Clarence), Adrian Dunbar (James Tyrell) and a tremulously outraged Maggie Smith (Duchess of York). To convey a sense of their characters' "foreignness," Loncraine has dared to supplement his British cast with two Americans -- Annette Bening (an impressively defiant Queen Elizabeth) and Robert Downey Jr. (a persuasively dissipated Rivers) -- and the gamble pays off.

Loncraine's cheekiness extends to his depiction of the play's violent highlights. Rivers meets his shocking end in a manner that recalls Kevin Bacon's grisly quietus in the first Friday the 13th movie. Later, the director manages to motivate Richard's "My kingdom for a horse!" speech by placing the desperate usurper in a stalled jeep during a climactic battle. But Loncraine saves his most ostentatious touch for last, when he has a defeated but unrepentant Richard appear to jump straight into hell. Judging from the smug look on his face, Richard thinks he will be more than welcome there.

Richard III. Directed by Richard Loncraine.
With Ian McKellen, Kristin Scott Thomas and Jim Broadbent.
Rated R.
105 minutes.

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