Despite my love of all things literature, I must admit that my Shakespearean exposure is shamefully lacking. I get the feeling though, that there will be more people feeling the same way about Cymbeline. It’s one of the Bard’s lesser known works, which of course means its ripe for a modern day update that’s part Sons of Anarchy and part Baz Lurhmann’s Romeo + Juliet, featuring drugs, guns, biker gangs and an angry Ed Harris.
Based on William Shakespeare’s timeless play, “Cymbeline” unfolds as an epic battle between dirty cops and a drug dealing biker gang set in a corruption-riddled 21st century America.
In the original play, Cymbeline (Ed Harris) is a British king whose daughter Imogen (Dakota Johnson) is secretly in love with and has married – greatest name ever – Posthumus (Penn Badgley). When the King discovers this, he banishes Posthumus, as the husband of his only child would be heir to the throne.
A heartbroken Posthumus meets and makes a bet with with the fiendish Iacomo (Ethan Hawke) about Imogen’s devotion to him, by having Iacomo travel to the court and try and woo her. Because that always turns out well.
Meanwhile, the vile Queen (Milla Jovovich) is pulling off all her own manipulations – involving those Shakespeare favourites, poison and whispered words – to get her boorish son from a previous marriage, Cloten (Anton Yelchin), to marry Imogen, and thus when she disposes of Cymbeline, he can become King.
Yep, that all sounds par for the course.
This is the second Shakespearean collaboration between Hawke and writer/director Michael Almereyda, who also did a contemporary adaptation of Hamlet in 2000. Clearly, this is his thing.
Cymbeline currently does not have a release date.
Last Updated: November 29, 2013