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Genres: Drama
Actors: Derek Hutchinson , Mark Letheren , Claire Danes , Billy Crudup , Tom Wilkinson , Ben Chaplin , Hugh Bonneville , Jack Kempton , Alice Eve , Fenella Woolgar , David Westhead , Nick Barber , Stephen Marcus , Richard Griffiths , Zoe Tapper
Director: Richard Eyre
Country: United Kingdom, United States, Germany
Year: 2004
IMDB Rating: 7.1/10 (7150 votes)

Based in the 1660’s of London’s theatres, this film is about the rules of gender roles in theatre production, and means to change them for everyone’s benefit. Ned Kynaston is the homosexual cross-dressing actor who has been playing female parts in plays for years, particularly Desdemona in Othello, he also has a close relationship with a male co-actor. One day however, the rules of only men playing women could change when aspiring actress Maria auditions as Kynaston’s praised role, Desdemona, and soon enough, King Charles II decides to make the law that all female roles should be played only by women. Maria becomes a star, while Ned finds himself out of work. But after a while, Ned finds it in his nature to forgive Maria’s aspiration, they may even fall in love, and Charles may proclaim women will be played by either gender. Written by Jackson Booth-Millard In Stuart Restoration king Charles II’s reign, gay actor Ned Kynaston, a specialist in female parts, enjoys the favor of the public on stage and royal favorite George Villiars, Duke of Buckingham, in bed. But his dresser, Maria, secretly learned acting by observing him and started performing (illegally) in a tavern. When the king’s awfully common mistress, a former saleswoman, sides with Maria, the prohibition on actresses is lifted, later even reversed. Still Maria realizes she’s artistically far inferior to Ned, and takes him in after bigot ‘gentry’ roughed him up badly..

Film Review

Charles The Second tells it: In France ,women were allowed to play on stage.Molière and Racine (see the French movie "Marquise " starring Sophie Marceau by Vera Belmont)had their own theatrical companies (Molière's was "L'Illustre THéâtre" ).THe king does not say ,however,that comedians,male and female ,were excommunicated people ,and that Molière had a religious funeral (by night) only because the Sun King intervened."Stage beauty" is a genuine love story .From a grotesque Desdemone to a true woman of flesh and blood.From a comedian ,a human being who just pretends to a man.From a relic of the Roman empire's dramatic art to the modern show.Billy Crudup's metamorphosis is sensational.Matching him every step of the way is Claire Danes' Maria ,a suffragettes' ancestor:Danes had already played Juliette opposite DiCaprio's Romeo .A tribute to drama and to actresses.

What a surprising gem! This movie could have been a mainstream hit, but the 'historical theatrical' flavour probably made it difficult to sell to the mass market. Shame, because it's just great!! It's a very unique production, and entertaining on so many levels: The storyline is quirky and edifying, the characters are rich and humorous, the cinematography/set/costuming have life and colour, and both Billy Crudup and Claire Danes put in high quality performances. Crudup, in particular, has an extremely challenging role – two characters in one – and handles it most impressively. I was also struck by how Danes is developing into a fine young actress; she sweeps the audience right into her emotional world. And those scenes between the two of them…well!!..(jealous anyone?)…is it any wonder that they ended up together in real life after rehearsals and several takes of that?! (Watch it and you'll see what I mean!) All of the above, of course, is also a strong reflecti…

Billy Crudup is a "Stage Beauty" in the 2004 film costarring Claire Danes, Rupert Everett, Tom Wilkinson, Ben Chaplin, Zoe Tapper and Richard Griffiths. Based on the writings of Samuel Pepys about a stage actor named Ned Kynaston (Crudup), the plot centers around the repeal of an English law forbidding women on the stage during the time of King Charles II, 1660. The shining star in the female roles is Ned Kynaston who essays Ophelia, Desdemona, Juliet et al. to the enthusiastic approval of audiences and in particular, an audience of one, his lover, The Duke of Buckingham (Chaplin). Because he is in such great demand, Kynaston's boss Betterton (Wilkinson) has given him cast approval. With Kynaston's head getting too big for his wigs, he insults Sir Charles Sedley, who tries to pick him up thinking he's a woman (but not at all put off when he learns he's a man), and Sedley conspires to get revenge. Then Kynaston insults Nell Gwynn (Tapper), the King's mistr…

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