Teen film ’10 Things’ mimics Shakespeare

Heather West

Heath Ledger’s stunning performance as the Joker in “The Dark Knight” may earn him a posthumous Academy Award next year, but his breakout role in 1999’s “10 Things I Hate About You” is what first earned him a place in audiences’ hearts.

Like many young, successful actors, Ledger constantly battled typecasting – the lure of predictable acting and stereotypical characterization.

Though “10 Things” was one of many films that showcased Ledger as a hunky heartthrob, it was also an important turning point in his life.

His first foray into American cinema inspired him to take on more challenging and diverse roles, like Mel Gibson’s son in “The Patriot.”

Ledger died unexpectedly in January, but even his earliest works, like “10 Things I Hate About You,” are evidence of what would have been a stellar career.

In “10 Things,” Ledger stars as Patrick Verona, a teenage troublemaker fresh off an alleged stint in San Quentin Prison.

When an acquaintance offers him $50 to take the fiery Kat Stratford (Julia Stiles) on a date, Patrick reluctantly accepts the challenge.

He soon finds out, however, that “taming” Kat might well be an impossible task.

Full of love triangles, breakups and reconciliations, “10 Things I Hate About You” is not the typical teenage comedy.

Beneath its candy-punk exterior lies the classic plot structure of Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew.”

Fittingly, many of the actors, most notably Ledger, bring depth and gravity to their simple roles.

Ledger dominates the film with quiet confidence in some scene, and with carefree passion in others.

His natural acting ability lends interest to a character that otherwise could have been boring and predictable.

Though the film’s 1999 theatrical debut met with only moderate success, Ledger left a lasting and profound impression on audiences worldwide.

“10 Things I Hate About You” is the eighth film in the Cultural Film Series “In Memoriam,” and will be shown four times in the Connelly Cinema.

Showtimes are Saturday at 7 p.m. Sunday at 3:30 and 7 p.m. and Monday at 7 p.m. Admission is free for students and $5 for all others.

The Monday showing will feature Dr. Ruth Anolik, a specialist in Gothic literature and adjunct professor in Villanova’s Center for Liberal Education. Anolik will introduce the film and lead a discussion afterward.