This is the film that introduced Heath Ledger to the world. Every time he is on screen in the film he owns it. Ledger is not the only star in the film as Julia Stiles, Allison Janney and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are also wonderful. The film brims with energy and makes Shakespeare accessible to all with an update of The Taming of the Shrew.
Kat Stratford (Julia Stiles – The Bourne Ultimatum, Mona Lisa Smile) is a student at Padua High School. She is a sarcastic and unpopular girl whereas her younger sister, Bianca (Larisa Oleynik – The Babysitters Club, An American Rhapsody), is very popular. Their overprotective father (Larry Miller – Get Smart – 2008, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) won’t let Bianca go out with boys until her sullen sister does.
The boy, Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt – (500) Days of Summer, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra), who wants to date Bianca hires a new boy in school, Patrick (Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight, Brokeback Mountain), to go out with Kat. What starts out as an arrangement becomes a lot more for Patrick and others.
What makes the film work besides the winning script is the acting ability of and chemistry between Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles. Ledger is handsome and charming and Stiles exudes intelligence and does not overdo the bitterness. They make the script work even better. Their abilities turn this into much more than your typical teen flick.
Like many teen films there are plenty of clichés in the film. There are your usual dance, vomiting and romance scenes. What separates this film from others is its intelligence and wit. It will end up reminding older viewers of John Hughes’ films of the 1980s.