Shakespeare In Love

Starring: Joseph Fiennes, Gwyneth Paltrow
Directed by: John Madden (No, not the football guy)
Produced by: David Parfitt

_____Call me what you will, but I was actually anticipating this film when I trooped off to watch it. Since I saw this after many controversial opinions have been raised here on Rice World, I tried to keep an open mind about this subject matter. However, after the first 10 minutes of the film, Shakespeare In Love had me charmed. Throughout the movie, not only did it portray Shakespeare as someone other than the stuffy playwright we know him as, but also made infinite references and crosses between all his famous plays in the most delightful manner. If you don't believe me, watch for the Macbeth ghost scene and of course, the Romeo and Juliet balcony scene. It's hilarious!

_____The film opens with young William Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes), known universally then as Will, busy scribbling something with his quill pen. It happens to be his signature, and written all over the paper. Soon after he crumbles it up in frustration and tosses it into an already-full waste bin. Yes, this means the greatest playwright of all time... suffers from writer's block! Meanwhile Philip Henslowe (Geoffrey Rush), owner of the Rose Theatre and Shakespeare's supposedly-patron, is being tortured to produce a play that a crowd wants. Tough luck for Henslowe, since Shakespeare not only cannot make any progress on his latest play, Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate's Daughter (the way they introduce the title is a total riot), he is sick for true love.

_____Will, mired in overall mucky depression, looks for advice from his fellow playwright, Christopher "Kit" Marlowe. Marlowe throws him some ideas for his play, Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate's Daughter, and even suggests some names. Eventually he scrapes together scene 1 and goes hunting for a person suitable for the role of Romeo. This is where Viola de Lesseps (Gwyneth Paltrow) comes in for the audition, and wins it by a long-shot. What happens afterwards is a slight confusion between the real Viola and her male disguise for Romeo (since women were not allowed to act in the 1500's and 1600's). Will and Viola pairs up as the make-out couple from then on, as the film goes in and out of the rehersal scenes and bedtime scenes. Eventually Shakespeare names the play Romeo and Juliet, a love tragedy... what a spinoff from Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate's Daughter, which was meant to be a romantic comedy!

_____One thing I must nit-pick at is the ending, which is a bit muddy and confusing. The script writer seems to be drunk when he wrote the part, since it sure had me confused a while. Obviously I won't give away the ending, but any half-brained reader can probably guess the ending anyway. However, that is the only part of the movie I was remotely dissatisfied with. Shakespeare in Love made me see the Elizabethan era in a new light... more humorous, a lighter side, in contrast to the serious feel most get when reading the history book. Watch for Burbage and his whore... disgusting yet hilarious. =)

_____What makes this movie click is the interweaving script, which never lets the audience feel ho-hum at any particular time. Joseph Fiennes delivers a truely magnificent performance, portraying a Shakespeare that is _this close_ from going off the edge. Then of course, there's Gwyneth Paltrow. She sends this natural charm across the big-screen with the best of them, and her character and attitude in playing a theatre-loving noble is pure gold.

_____So why are there so many controversial opinions on this movie? Personally it ranks as one of my favorite movies, witty and romantic, pure movie-going fun. I think it may be that some people struggle with the idea of Shakespeare anything less than a brilliant genius. On second hand, it may be because of the genre, which lands in the Romantic Comedy / Drama category. Many Rice World fans are blood-thirsty action peons, whom craves violence and death. Whatever the reason may be, each person is entitled to their own opinions, and mine, for Shakespeare in Love, is an A movie.

Overall Rating: A
Pro's: Funny, well-scripted, and terrific performances by the actors.
Con's: Unclear and twisted ending.

P.S. What's with the double movies lately anyway? Antz --> Bug's Life... Saving Private Ryan --> Thin Red Line... Deep Impact --> Armageddon...

P.P.S. For those that watched Elizabeth, you may have noticed that both Joseph Fiennes and Geoffrey Rush are in both movies... both of which is set in the Elizabethan era. Intersting shmuck this is... =)