Shakespeare in Love Movie Review

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Updated: Mar 07, 2023
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The young and spirited Viola De Lessep (played by Gwyneth Paltrow)is but a fictional cinematic creation. Many Shakespeare scholars claim Anne Hathaway was the light, love and muse during Shakespeare’s entire adult life. There is a great scene where the Queen exclaims that a playwright has finally portrayed true love, exalting Romeo and Juliet’s as a timeless play for the ages. She wins a 50 pound bet with the Earl of Wessex. (I would have liked to see her give that money to Young Will in the movie!) 

The movie entertains the theory that Shakespeare’s marriage to Anne Hathaway may have been an unhappy one.

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When they betrothed in 1582, he was 18; she was 26, and three months pregnant. The young and spirited Viola/Kent, a fictional cinematic creation of director John Madden, discovers Will has an estranged wife and two children. Many Shakespeare scholars claim Anne Hathaway was the light, love and muse during Shakespeare the Bard’s entire adult life. I liked the movie One movie reviewer said “This movie is absolutely riddled with witty and comedic lines. Will Shakespeare is only one of the hilarious characters” (Tutor ) Does one have to be a Shakespeare scholar to like Shakespeare plays and movies? I don’t think so. Not every movie critic thinks was Academy Award material. 

One movie reviewer lumped Shakespeare in Love with badteenybopper movies, “This version of history is so glossy it’s hard to take it seriously. “Despite Gwyneth Paltrow’s/Viola’s unlikely access to extremely realistic wigs and false mustaches (remember, this is Elizabethan England), she looks and sounds like a teenage girl. Despite the famously bald and lumpy portrait of Shakespeare we’ve all seen, Joseph Fiennes portrays him as a lean, hirsute dreamboat.” (Fallon). Another movie critic does not think Shakespeare in Love Oscar-worthy, “In ‘Shakespeare in Love,’ the actors’ accents are wrong (‘not broad enough’); their demeanor too restrained (‘not country enough’); and the director’s eye, not accurate enough. 

During the 16th century, no one would have been drinking from a glass beaker. It would have been pewter or wooden. And the queen would never have ventured out to a makeshift playhouse to view a performance.”(Gilmore) Walsh 5 I would give the movie 3 ½ stars- a “thumbs up”. When I think of the movie Shakespeare in Love….if I was going to do a word association, I would come up with the adage “All’s Fair in Love and War” because 1999 was also the year the Steven Spielberg war movie Saving Private Ryan was nominated for Best Picture at the 71st Oscars. Critics of Shakespeare in Love dismiss Bard’s romance as fluffy and lightweight romantic comedy while the proclaiming Saving Private Ryan as “the best war picture of all time.”. Both films have their merits. As a novice Shakespeare enthusiast, I find it a daunting task to wade through scores of plays, books on Shakespeare and 154 sonnets.

The Norton Based on the Oxford Edition Shakespeare by Steven Greenblatt, Second Edition is 3415 pages in length. Shakespeare in Love accomplishes three important tasks for me as a Shakespeare novice: 

1) I learned a little about the play the Twelfth Night, 

2) I learned a little about the play Romeo and Juliet and 

3) I learned to like a movie that tended humanize and soften the perception of the world’s most famous writer. 

In conclusion, I would have to say I would recommend this movie to both novice and Shakespeare-expert alike even though the plot and story take frequent and whimsical flights from historical accuracy. 

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Shakespeare in Love movie review. (2021, Nov 30). Retrieved from