Don John is the evil bastard brother in the play. He is only recently reconciled with Don Pedro and he plays the role of a schemer, a discontent and a machiavel. In reality, Don John is merely the excluded character, a man who cannot fit into the society he is unwillingly a part of. When Conrad tries to tell him he should act happy around Don Pedro, he states, "I had rather be a canker in a hedge than a rose in his grace" (-22). Don John thus ignores the family network, fails to observe the proper code of conduct, misses the dinner party thrown by Leonato, and rebels against the compulsory set of social rules.
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave it three out of four stars, calling it "cheerful from beginning to end."  Vincent Canby of The New York Times also wrote the film a positive review, praising Branagh's direction and calling it "ravishing entertainment."  Desson Thomson of The Washington Post praised Branagh's cuts to the text as giving "wonderful import to this silliness from long ago" and stated that "Kenneth Branagh has, once again, blown away the forbidding academic dust and found a funny retro-essence for the '90s."  Online critic James Berardinelli gave the film a glowing four-star review, calling it a "gem of a movie", especially praising the accessibility of the humor, the performances, and Branagh's lively direction, of which he wrote, "This film cements Branagh's status as a great director of Shakespeare, and perhaps of film in general, as well."