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Stage Beauty

Romance . Drama . Comedy

Humble Maria, who outfits top London theater star Ned Kynaston, takes none of the credit for the male actor's success at playing women. And because this is the 17th century, Maria, like other females, is prohibited from pursuing her dream of acting. But when powerful people support her, King Charles II lifts the ban on female stage performers. And just as Maria aided Ned, she needs his help to learn her new profession.

Actors: David Westhead , Fenella Woolgar , Jack Kempton , Hugh Bonneville , Ben Chaplin , Tom Wilkinson , Billy Crudup , Claire Danes , Mark Letheren , Derek Hutchinson
Directors: Richard Eyre
Country: UK , USA , GERMANY
Release: 2004-10-29
More Info:
  • Ray Bennett

    Those who thought "Shakespeare In Love" was as good as it gets in intelligent costume romantic comedy will find that director Richard Eyre and writer Jeffrey Hatcher have taken the form to a higher level.

    The Hollywood Reporter Full Review
  • Stanley Kauffmann

    Crudup is whole. He creates the man who has pride in what he does, who is suddenly stripped of the work and the pride; and who makes his way, somewhat painfully, to another sort of pride. His story is a small but acute poignancy in the history of the theater, and Crudup realizes it completely.

    The New Republic Full Review
  • Jack Mathews

    It's not as clever, or as consistently funny, or as well-cast as "Shakespeare in Love," but Richard Eyre's Stage Beauty is the most fun I've had with the Bard since that 1998 Oscar winner.

    New York Daily News Full Review
  • Michael Wilmington

    A rich, shining valentine to the British theater and the eternal joys of Shakespeare,

    Chicago Tribune Full Review
  • David Rooney

    This skillfully acted, handsomely crafted frock piece toys cleverly with gender confusion and sexual identity.

    Variety Full Review
  • Alan Morrison

    A film that, despite being about theatre itself, is remarkably cinematic and entirely unafraid to revel in the English language.

    Empire Full Review
  • Ella Taylor

    The movie blows a fresh wind of disrespect, high drama and lush romanticism through that stolidly middlebrow subgenre, the period drama.

    L.A. Weekly Full Review
  • Carina Chocano

    Sly and witty.

    Los Angeles Times Full Review
  • Peter Travers

    Expertly directed by Richard Eyre (Iris) from Jeffrey Hatcher's play, the film is bawdy fun.

    Rolling Stone Full Review
  • David Sterritt

    In the popularity sweepstakes, Stage Beauty may earn top honors, outdoing the overrated "Shakespeare in Love" as a dramatic comedy about life and love in an era more naive - but hardly more innocent - than our own.

    Christian Science Monitor Full Review
  • Megan Lehmann

    Sometimes teeters on the verge of going completely over the top, but it's mostly saved by its own self-awareness.

    New York Post Full Review
  • Mike Clark

    Beauty is about two-thirds the serious-edged romp it would like to be, which still leaves a lot of room for tony fun.

    USA Today Full Review
  • Roger Ebert

    Claire Danes is as fresh as running water in this role, exhibiting the clarity and directness that has become her strength; her characters tend to know who they are, and why.

    Chicago Sun-Times Full Review
  • Connie Ogle

    Has a weird, compelling energy, fueled by a deliciously dynamic cast, a cheerfully bawdy and odd story line and a refreshing, impossible romance.

    Miami Herald Full Review
  • David Ansen

    It's a marvelous premise, and Crudup's serpentine performance has a venomous grace. But Jeffrey Hatcher's screenplay too often sacrifices psychological insight for bogus theatricality.

    Newsweek Full Review
  • Peter Rainer

    Crudup, whose features have the appropriate delicacy, plays Ned with complete conviction; it’s difficult to imagine anyone else succeeding as well.

    New York Magazine (Vulture) Full Review
  • Stephanie Zacharek

    An entertainment as billowy as a Shakespearean nurse's sail-shaped hat. Full Review
  • Teresa Wiltz

    Ultimately this is a celebration of the theater, a big, wet kiss to the craft of acting and the artists who inhabited London's early stages.

    Washington Post Full Review
  • Gregory Weinkauf

    The design is gorgeous, the dialogue delicious, and even the supporting characters prove resonant.

    Dallas Observer Full Review
  • J.R. Jones

    The movie's sexual politics couldn't be more regressive--Crudup learns to be a man in the sack as well as on the boards--but it's still a competent middlebrow costume drama.

    Chicago Reader Full Review
  • Marc Mohan

    For those to whom life is but a stage, this will be sweet, sweet candy; to those of us destined to be their audience, it's a satisfying, if flawed, look behind the curtain.

    Portland Oregonian Full Review
  • James Berardinelli

    For every thing that Stage Beauty does right, it fumbles at least one other element, resulting in a movie-going experience that is of the glass half-full/half-empty variety.

    ReelViews Full Review
  • Liam Lacey

    At best, the film makes a more convincing case for the adventure of artificiality: Take Billy Crudup, add a little rouge to his cheeks and suddenly: Voilà, the guy can act.

    The Globe and Mail (Toronto) Full Review
  • Chris Kaltenbach

    In the end, viewers are left with a nagging feeling that this was a long way to go for the incongruous pleasure of watching 20th-century method acting on a 17th-century stage.

    Baltimore Sun Full Review
  • Ty Burr

    Yet Crudup does good, mercurial work despite a silly surfer-dude haircut.

    Boston Globe Full Review
  • Dana Stevens

    As drama, Stage Beauty is both timorous and ungainly, words that might also describe Ms. Danes's performance.

    The New York Times Full Review
  • Angel Cohn

    The film is an intriguing and hugely theatrical experience whose effectiveness is greatly enhanced by gorgeous period costumes and set design.

    TV Guide Full Review
  • Owen Gleiberman

    A celebration of the theater that tends to drag the moment it's out of drag.

    Entertainment Weekly Full Review
  • William Arnold

    There's an enjoyably literate style here and some humorous moments.

    Seattle Post-Intelligencer Full Review
  • Staff (Not Credited)

    The result is more bawdy diversion than historical fable.

    Premiere Full Review
  • Keith Phipps

    As historical speculation, it's clever enough. As a film, it glows with flop-sweat.

    The A.V. Club Full Review
  • Carrie Rickey

    Over-orchestrated and underdeveloped interpretation of Jeffrey Hatcher's play.

    Philadelphia Inquirer Full Review
  • Carla Meyer

    The film rarely matches Crudup's performance, appearing confused itself about whether it's farce or drama.

    San Francisco Chronicle Full Review
  • Lawrence Toppman

    The wigs, hats and gowns look realistic, gorgeous and utterly right. In a vapid confection like Stage Beauty, perhaps that's what really counts.

    Charlotte Observer Full Review
  • Marc Savlov

    Both interesting and insufferable.

    Austin Chronicle Full Review
  • David Denby

    Second-rate bawdiness--that is, bawdiness without the wit of Boccaccio or Shakespeare or even Tom Stoppard--is more infantile than funny, and I’m not sure that the American playwright Jeffrey Hatcher, who concocted this piece for the stage and then adapted it into a movie, is even second-rate.

    The New Yorker Full Review
  • Jessica Winter

    Most frustrating, Stage Beauty fumbles XX/XY politics at every turn.

    Village Voice Full Review
  • Desson Thomson

    In the end, Stage Beauty is in over its mediocre head.

    Washington Post Full Review