Ten Things I Hate About You (12)

Directed by Gil Junger
Starring Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles, Larisa Oleynik, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Larry Miller

An update of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew that owes a lot to Clueless. Yes, it's another high school film, but another one with style and wit.

Bianca and Katarina Stratford are the two daughters whose father gives them a simple rule; Bianca can't date until her older sister Kat does. While not quite the Shakespeare dragon lady, Kat is not one of the "in" crowd, but Biana is pursued by several boys. One of them is new boy Cameron(Gordon-Levitt from TVs Third Rock from the Sun). He decides to try and fix up Kat so he can ask out Bianca, and ddecides to ask the scariest boy in the school to ask her out if they pay him. Patrick Verona(Aussie newcomer Ledger), has a bad reputation but doesn't scare easily and needs the cash she he agrees. Of course, he isn't really so bad, unlike the mercenary and cruel Petrucio in Taming of the Shrew. But then this Katarina isn't so bad either, and as the film progresses we find out why she is so cold towards boys.

All the young cast are very good, although I think Larry Miller as the girls gynacologist father was my favourite character. Heath Ledger was pretty sexy, but looked about 10 years too old for high school, and I liked Julia Stiles as Kat. However, the real star must be the writers and directors. Gil Junger has directed lots of sitcoms so knows a thing or two about comedy. The writers were Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith - don't know anything about them, but this is a lively and funny adaptation. Like Clueless a few years back, we have genuinely likeable characters who are also well drawn and believable. The American High School genre is a huge one these days. wev'e had horror(The Faculty, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), musical(Grease), murder(Heathers), Literary adaptations (Clueless, this film). It certainly seems like a popular setting for US film makers to choose.
Not just for kids though (lots of rude jokes), this is a stylish comedy and an imaginative update of a classic chauvenistic play. 7/10

July 1999

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