Plot – The world’s greatest ever playwright, William Shakespeare, is young, out of ideas and short of cash, but meets his ideal woman and is inspired to write one of his most famous plays – Shakespeare in Love.
Director – John Madden
Released – 1998
Shakespeare in Love just like Forrest Gump and Crash suffers from the fact that it beat the odds to win at the Oscars and because of this is judged harshly by those who believe it didn’t deserve to win, thus preventing it from being remembered on its own merits. Something I too have been guilty of in the past. Which I why I have chosen to go back and revisit the film that beat Saving Private Ryan and The Thin Red Line to the top price and gained Dench and Paltrow their Oscars.
The highlight of this film has to be the writing. Filled with well-written and snappy dialogue, you’re hooked from the first scene, and even though everyone knows the story of Romeo & Juliet, the writers found a way to make the story surrounding it very entertaining indeed. The Costumes too were a visual delight, with every character wearing something unique and colourful.
While Shakespeare in Love is primarily a historical romance filled with many playful moments throughout to engage the audience, the film never feels bogged down by either genre. The makers where clearly aware of the absurd nature of the film and how historically inaccurate the premise was by peppering throughout plenty of Easter eggs for fans of Shakespeare to get a kick out of, including the name dropping some of his other works and having Christopher Marlowe, who some feel is the true author of the play, giving Shakespeare some advice on his script.
When it comes to the acting, the talent all round is plain to see, Fiennes fully encapsulates Shakespeare, a playwright struggling with writer’s block until he crosses paths with the beautiful Viola, played by the equally impressive and captivating Paltrow. It’s easy to see why she won Best Actress for this performance. But for me, the highlight of the performances belongs to Dench, who despite only appearing in the film for roughly 10 minutes manages to delight the audience as the ageing Queen Elizabeth.
In the end, Shakespeare in Love is nowhere near the quality of Saving Private Ryan but when viewed on its own merit remains a funny and interesting retelling of the life of one of England’s most famous playwrights. Filled with plenty of beautiful moments and captivating dialogue.