Shakespeare In Love

This delightful, fast-paced and entirely fictional imagining of Shakespeare's life during the writing of Romeo and Juliet brims with witticisms predicated on the determination to have a rollicking good time exploring the link between libido and creativity. It's 1593, and scruffy but good-hearted theater owner Philip Henslowe (Geoffrey Rush) has commissioned...read more

Reviewed by Sandra Contreras
Rating:

This delightful, fast-paced and entirely fictional imagining of Shakespeare's life during the writing of Romeo and Juliet brims with witticisms predicated on the determination to have a rollicking good time exploring the link between libido and

creativity. It's 1593, and scruffy but good-hearted theater owner Philip Henslowe (Geoffrey Rush) has commissioned the newest play by up-and-comer William Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes). Unfortunately, young Will has also sold the idea to a rival theater, and, more unfortunate still, all he has is

the unpromising title Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate's Daughter, and a bad case of writer's block. The lusty playwright finds his muse in Viola de Lesseps (Gwyneth Paltrow): Disguised as a boy, she auditions for and wins the role of Romeo. Will eventually figures out that the object of his

affection and his leading "man" are one and the same, but the course of true love does not run smooth. Viola's wealthy family plans to marry her off to the noble (if penniless) Lord Wessex (Colin Firth), and the doomed affair inspires Will to write the tragic Romeo and Juliet, which is

precisely what commercially minded Henslowe doesn't want. By dipping into the playwright's own bag of dramatic tricks -- including mistaken identity and gender-bending -- screenwriters Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard celebrate Shakespeare while making him as accessible to contemporary

audiences as he was to his own. In a particularly well-cast film that includes Judi Dench as Queen Elizabeth and Rupert Everett as rival Christopher Marlowe, Fiennes is a felicitous lead: He replaces the stodgy, historical image of the Bard of Avon with a youthful man bursting with creativity,

snatching ideas from everywhere and making them wonderfully his own. Henslowe may be onto something when he jokes that all audiences want is love and a bit with the dog, but this film delivers much more.

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