10 Things I Hate About You12
In 1999 a young, 20-year-old Australian actor made his US debut in the teen comedy 10 Things I Hate About You - his name was Heath Ledger.
Eight years later he would die of what was reported to have been an accidental overdose, marking the end of a hugely promising career ahead of him.
His first hit then is being re-released to mark its 25th anniversary, as well as serve as a reminder of where the legend of Heath Ledger began.
Arriving as a new student at Padua High is Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). He hasn’t been there five minutes and he already finds himself in love, with Bianca (Larisa Oleynik).
He hits a snag with her however, as he discovers that she isn’t allowed to date boys ‘til her older sister Kat (Julia Stiles) does.
So along with his new friend Michael (David Krumholtz), they concoct a plan where they get another interested party in Bianca, model wannabe Joey (Andrew Keegan), to put up cash for school bad boy Patrick (Ledger) to pretend he’s interested in Kat and have her go out with him, thus clearing the path for both Joey and Cameron to make moves on Bianca.
But as a certain English writer once wrote, the course of true love never did run smooth.
Apparently screenwriters Karen McCullah and Kirsten Smith were so inspired by 1995’s Clueless, which was a hip spin on Jane Austen’s Emma, they thought they would do the same with Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, and so 10 Things I Hate About You was born.
And much like Clueless, it’s a modern re-telling that works really well. It certainly benefits from a talented young cast, who give the kind of performances that have a genuine feel about them. And then there’s Ledger.
It’s not difficult to see from his performance that he was destined to go places, with a natural, leading man quality from the off. And it’s because of him, and the rest of the young cast, especially a spirited Julia Stiles, that the film, quite rightly, remains a truly beloved high school flick.
It was the debut for director Gil Junger, who clearly caught lightning in a bottle on his first attempt; sadly, his career plateaued with its release, and most of his films since have been made for TV affairs, not coming close to the huge success of his debut.
It may well be 25 years old, but 10 Things I Hate About You is still a great example of the high school rom-com, evoking a great sense of the period with its kicking soundtrack and its timeless themes of flourishing first loves.