Sunday, January 3, 2016

Shakespeare in Love

Movie Name: Shakespeare in Love
Year of Release: 1998
Director: John Madden
Stars: Gwyneth Paltrow, Joseph Fiennes, Geoffrey Rush, Ben Affleck, Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Colin Firth, Simon Callow, Imelda Staunton, Jim Carter, Martin Clunes, Antony Sher, Mark Williams
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis & Review:
"Shakespeare in Love" is now well known as the big Oscar winner of 1998, and the film that managed to dethrone "Saving Private Ryan"'s almost sure win (and it was also one of the topics of Peter Biskind's book "Down and Dirty Pictures", which focused on Miramax's tactics for campaigning when Oscar season is in place). The film focuses on the story of Will Shakespeare, a young but struggling poet, who in England in the sixteenth century, sold his next play to both Philip Henslow and Richard Burbidge but is now facing a far more difficult problem: he has writer's block and is unable to move on with his writing. This situation changes when he meets the beautiful Viola de Lesseps - she loves the theatre and ambitions to become an actor, however she's forbidden from doing so, since only men can be actors. Viola manages to come up with a plan that allows her to pursue her dream, all the while slowly becoming involved with Shakespeare.
John Madden made his career primarily directing British tv shows. He experienced some critical acclaim with "Ethan Frome" in 1993, but it was "Mrs. Brown" in 1997 that really placed him on the map. "Shakespeare in Love" was a film with plenty of turnarounds in terms of casting and even director - the film was at one point going to star Julia Roberts and be directed by Ed Zwick. The film lives primarily from the smart script from Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard, which mixes historical facts about William Shakespeare with romantic and farcical elements. It's intelligent, comical and successful due to the incredible work from its talented cast: Judi Dench and Geoffrey Rush in particular create memorable characters, whereas the rest of the film, though entertaining, it's never more than a polished and well executed BBC film (as can be seen for the rest of the filmography of this director - competent and well executed, but without a distinct voice or tone).