Shakespeare in Love

26  FEB

Directed by  John Madden
Written by  Marc Norman, Tom Stoppard
Starring:  Joseph Fiennes (Will Shakespeare)
Gwyneth Paltrow (Viola De Lesseps)
Colin Firth (Lord Wessex)
Judi Dench (Queen Elizabeth)
Geoffrey Rush (Philip Henslowe)
Tom Wilkinson (Hugh Fennyman)
Ben Affleck (Ned Alleyn)
Rupert Everett (Christopher Marlowe)
Runtime: 122 minutes

We have recently seen various movie revisiting Shakespeare's plays in a modern way (eg. Romeo + Juliet) or in an analyzing and 'different' way (eg. Al Pacino's Looking for Richard) or in its classical form (eg. Hamlet). Now we have a movie about Shakespeare himself, that shows us the relationship between his own life and his plays.

The story begins with the young Will Shakespeare suffering from the writer's block, due to the lack of 'real' love in his life. While he is searching for a theater and for the actors of his newest and not yet written play, he meets and immediately falls in love with Viola, a rich lady who is forcedly going to marry another noble man. Using his new personal experiences as a source of ideas for the comedy, Shakespeare manages to put together a group of actors, find a theater and bring life to his new play: "Romeo and Juliet".

The first thing that surprised me was the funny atmosphere, the amusing character and the generally light mood which makes the movie enjoyable and entertaining. Probably I expected a completely different approach to the story, more classical, boring and strictly romantic. This is in fact the winning point of this movie, it allows anybody to learn something about Shakespeare's plays without the typical boredom and heavy connected to this kind of literary subjects.

All the actors are perfect in their roles, their acting is never pushed over the top or forced in any way. Even the supporting roles are covered very well, I particularly liked the sober performance of Ben Affleck. I liked a lot also the character of Queen Elizabeth that always shows her resolution, wisdom and provides many witty and sharp speeches. In general, every part of the movie does work, including the settings, the costumes and the perfect balance between comedy and drama.

This is a movie about Shakespeare that pushes you to learn more about his plays. Fortunately, even my limited knowledge of Shakespeare's work has been enough to understand most of the references scattered throughout the whole movie, especially because most of them are about the well known "Romeo and Juliet". Most of these references provides various fine funny moments, either because other people gave Shakespeare the ideas for the basic plot of what will become his famous plays or because he was initially thinking about something completely different compared to what was produced in the end (eg. "Romeo and Ethel the Sea Pirate's Daughter"!).

Rating: 7.8  ****

Links:  Official Site




© Copyright Sergio Monesi, 1997-1999.
Last updated: 25 Jun 1999