Shakespeare in Love is a delightfully funny look into the Bard’s fictitious inspiration for his most famous love story. Bereft of ideas for his new play, Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter, Will (Fiennes) meets the beautiful theatre-loving Viola (Paltrow). Their love affair inspires the famous tragedy of the star-crossed lovers that we know today.
The comic characters are well performed by a great cast. Fiennes and Paltrow are a well-matched pair, however her swooning lover is a tad overdone. Rush has some of the best lines as aggravated theatre-owner, Henslowe, Affleck is great as arrogant actor, Alleyn, and Dench is excellent as austere Queen Elizabeth, winning the Oscar for only 8 minutes of screen time.
The art direction and costume designs are wonderfully done and transports you back to the days of the Rose Theatre and Lord Chamberlain’s Men.
The writing is clever, and nicely shows the parallels between the well-known play and Shakespeare’s personal life. Many dramatic devices of the Elizabethan era (play-within-a-play, mistaken identities, feuding families and sword fights) can be found in the film, often presented as if they were the real events that inspired Shakespeare’s work.
Despite its two-hour length, this charming film never drags and is a joy to watch. For those looking for a movie that captures the excitement and wonder of the theatre, look no further.