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review-shakespeare-love

SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE (1998)

Sometimes it takes a little romance to write your best work, even if you're William Shakespeare!

The cast includes: Gwyneth Paltrow, Joseph Fiennes, Geoffrey Rush, Colin Firth, Ben Affleck, Judi Dench, and Simon Callow.

Oscars include: Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress.

Director John Madden was nominated for Best Director Oscar.

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Best Picture Oscar Winner / Best Picture Index

"A Comedy About the Greatest Love Story Almost Never Told... Love is the only inspiration"

"Strangely enough it all turns out well... It's a mystery!" - said by Phillip Henslowe

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The setting is London in the summer of 1593, where a struggling playwright, known as William Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes), seems to have developed a severe case of writers block over his latest piece of work. This is primarily due to guilt over his failed marriage, & the lack of a meaningful, captivating female companionship. It isn't until he gets caught up in a meaningful, intense love affair, with the lovely Viola De Lesseps (Gwyneth Paltrow), that he can get the quill flowing again.

However, the plot thickens; we soon discover that his beloved Viola, is actually none other than the talented thespian, Master Thomas Kent, who auditioned for and won the role of Romeo, in Shakespeare's play. That wouldn't be so bad except for the fact that she's a lady portraying a man, and women back then weren't even allowed to participate in such ludicrous, disgraceful activities, such as the theatre! It was the custom that only men were hired to play both the male and the female role parts of a play, produced in 1593.

The direction by John Madden, the wonderful screenplay by Mard Norman and Tom Stoppard, and the inspired cast all work together to produce a very entertaining comedy / drama.

The chemistry is great amongst the actors, especially Paltrow and Fiennes, who really act well off each other's performances, and really carried the script to heights envisioned by the screenwriters, Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard.

Colin Girth as the Lord of Wessex, Her "husband-to-be," isn't bad either, as the big, chauvinist jerk, who her father, Sir Robert de Lesseps (Nicholas Le Prevost) has picked to be her husband.

Geoffrey Rush's performance, as Phillip Henslowe, the long suffering theater owner who had hired Shakespeare to write a play, earned him an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor.

Tom Wilkinson, as the play financier, Hugh Fennyman, does an excellent job, showing the personal growth of his character. Hugh Fennyman, who at the beginning of the story, had little respect for actors and play writers. After firmly being put in his place by Ben Afflick's character, well-known actor, Ned Alleyn, he begins to grow in his appreciation of Shakespeare's new play, as he sits in on the rehearsals, and develops a new respect, in awe of the art form. He is thrilled and excited to be given the part of the druggist, who gives the poison to the character, Romeo. He enthusiastically and earnestly goes about learning his lines, oblivious to all that is happening around him.

Some of the best scenes, besides the Paltrow and Fiennes interludes, by far were some of the rehearsal scenes, the actual performance of the play, the dance scene, plus any and all scenes dealing with the Queen Elizabeth, played by the wonderful Judi Dench, who won the best supporting actress award for her performance in this film.

It's a fun and witty, yet dramatic film, that gets five stars from just about everybody. It is rated R however, for sexual content and nudity, which the movie truly deserves. The film isn't for the whole family, but is well-suited for an older audience, 17 and over.

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If you enjoyed SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE you may like SLIDING DOORS, EMMA, MRS. BROWN, VICTOR/VICTORIA, MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, and/or TOOTSIE.