The Twenty-First Century

Anonymous [2011]

Was William Shakespeare a fraud? According to “Anonymous”, not only he was a fraud, but stupid and vulgar as well. It’s an insult to our intelligence for sure. But as a piece of fiction (or is it one?), it’s not that bad. There are some really good moments here, from its captivating opening scene, to the recreations of many of Shakespeare’s plays, which is why it’s frustrating that half the film doesn’t work that well. The story goes that the plays and poems commonly attributed to William Shakespeare are actually the work of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. The confusing part is that the story goes back and forth in time so many times, it’s hard to keep track of everything going on. We see David Thewlis as Queen Elizabeth’s advisor William Cecil in three different time periods. The Queen herself is played by a wonderful Vanessa Redgrave, and as a young woman by her real life daughter Joely Richardson. The question of who may have written all those plays would be enough to fuel a thought provoking movie, but because no one wants to tell a story in straightforward fashion anymore, the film turns into a larger historical drama involving complex court issues, deception and love affairs. Of course it would be fine if those moments were brief, but unfortunately, they make up much of the story. What a shame. Director Roland Emmerich, famous for such apocalyptic movies as “Independence Day” and “2012” does a great job of recreating 17th century England. I wish he’d also brought along a better script. I admired the performances and the vivid atmosphere in “Anonymous”, but I can’t say I fully embraced it.

Rating: 2.5/4

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