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Some mischievous fairies wreak havoc on the love lives of several people who unwittingly stumble into a fairy love spell while walking in the woods one night. It seems the Lord fairy wanted to play a trick on the Lady fairy, his estranged wife (Michelle Pfeiffer). So he sends his silly fairy friend Puck to cast a love spell upon the Lady and another fairy. Puck puts the spell on a bumbling actor (Kevin Kline) by mistake.
He also casts love spells on two mixed up couples. Helena (Calista Flockhart) is in love with Demetrius, a man who wants nothing to do with her. He is in love with a woman who wants nothing to do with him, although her father is all for their marriage. She runs away with another man, and they end up in the forest. Helena chases Demetrius into the forest, begging him to let her follow him around like a dog (she actually uses that as an example - "Use me as you use your dog!", she pleads). Thanks to the fairies, they all eventually wind up in love with the right person.
Although I thought A Midsummer Night's Dream was delightful, I have to say that I liked the fairy characters better than the mortals. The fairies seemed cleverer and were much more fun to watch. However, even the mortal characters were amusing at times.
The only other complaint I have with this movie is the old Shakespearan-style language. At a few points, it was obvious that certain actors were concentrating so hard on remembering what to say and how to say it that they couldn't act convincingly. And listening to people talk in rhyme continuously became a little annoying. I can understand if the fairies talked in rhyme while saying a spell, but almost all the characters talk in rhyme almost all the time - oh no, now I'm doing it!
Still, my overall opinion of A Midsummer Night's Dream was very commendable, and I recommend it highly.
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There's the older couple, Paul and Hannah (Sean Connery and Gena Rowlands) having it out over an affair the husband had twenty-five years ago. (Apparently his brain tumor diagnosis brought all sorts of old skeletons out of the closet for them.) Then there's the woman who is sleeping with the priest (although we don't actually find out he's a priest until the end of the movie). Her husband Hugh (Dennis Quaid) is taking an acting class so he goes around relating incredible sob stories to total strangers.
There's a 30-year oldish woman, Meridith (Gillian Anderson, better here than in X-Files ) who seems dead-set against romance, despite one man's desperate attempts to win her attention. A third young woman Joan (Angelina Jolie) is in exactly the opposite situation - she's trying to win a guy who wants nothing to do with her (or anyone else, for that matter).
My mother enjoyed this movie more than I did, probably because she recognized several of the older actors, like Sean Connery. She also said it reminded her of the soap- opera Thirtysomething, although I thought the ending was a bit too happy for any soap. (No character on a soap has ever been or will ever be anything but miserable. Otherwise, it wouldn't be a soap opera.) I figured out the parts that were obviously intended to be surprising, but I may just be very good at figuring out movie plots because I've seen so many! At any rate, "Playing by Heart" was more or less interesting, and the acting, for the most part, was adequate (in a few cases, more than adequate). Quaid, for example, did a magnificent job of telling all those made-up stories.
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