Maybe if I start boning chicks too, my writing will somehow get better.
Young Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) is forced to stage his latest comedy, “Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter,” before it’s even written. When a lovely noblewoman (Gwyneth Paltrow) auditions for a role, they fall into forbidden love — and his play finds a new life (and title). As their relationship progresses, Shakespeare’s comedy soon transforms into tragedy.
Many people will always bash on this film because they don’t think it was quite deserving of the seven Oscars it got, including Best Picture because it beat out one of my favorites, Saving Private Ryan. But at the same time, I can kind of see why now.
My favorite element of this film is the combination of the witty script, and inspired direction. The script has many little jokes inside the core of it, and it may be hard at first to catch the real wit within this script, but once you get the hang of the jokes, they will have you howling. There are many references to some of other Shakespeare’s work, but also some other ironic jokes that will have almost anybody laughing. This is basically a reworking of a period of history, and in ways you have to suspend all disbelief and just go along with this film, and I promise you if you can, you will not be disappointed.
Director John Madden does a great job of keeping this film at a very quick, and fast pace to have us get a feel for this rowdy environment that this film takes place in. Madden makes this film look perfect with it’s vibrant sets of color, decorations, and costumes and I felt like I was there with all this happening. Beneath all this comedy though, there is a beautiful love story that shows the importance of art, and poetry. Being a writer myself, I know what it’s like to have inspiration in my life and for my art, and I must say that this film did touch on that well here and gave us a reason to believe that this love really was something special. However, Madden still finds fun with this screenplay and does not hold back from getting a little goofy, which just makes this even more fun.
My only gripe with this film is that even though I liked the humor and romantic elements to this film, I felt like when they were combined together in this film, it kind of gave this film an uneven pace. There are moments of this film where it’s going all-over-the-place, and kicking jokes out of the wazoo, but then they get to the romance parts, which are sweet, but they kind of take down all this energy. I don’t know what it was, maybe it was something with me, but either way I just wish the film kept up that quick pace and didn’t slow down when it started to get all kissy face.
I think the main reason this film worked so well was because of its truly amazing ensemble of a cast. Gwyneth Paltrow plays Viola De Lesseps, in an Oscar-winning role, and she deserved it because she really is amazing here. She plays Viola with such strength, and presence that you feel her love and heart through every scene she has and I must say it makes her character so much more interesting than anybody would have expected. Joseph Fiennes fits perfectly as the poster boy for William Shakespeare, as he has both the charm, and the looks to back up his act and make Shakespeare a very likable guy in this film. I still do think he should have at least gotten a nomination for his work in this film too. Geoffrey Rush plays Philip Henslowe and does a good job at always bringing that nutty side to every one of his characters. Judi Dench is only in this film for about nine minutes but somehow won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, and this caused quite an uproar. Dench is perfect as Queen Elizabeth here, and brings out that total bitch-mode we all know and love her for, and does a great job with the limited time she’s given on-screen. The rest of the cast is good as well with the likes such as Colin Firth, Tom Wilkinson, Simon Callow, and hell even Ben Affleck does a good job too.
Consensus: The pacing may be a bit off, but Shakespeare in Love is an amazing romantic comedy, that has hilarious and sweet screenplay, that provides great attention to detail, as well as perfect performances from the cast, that just allow you to be entertained and have a great time while watching no matter how much or how little you know of Shakespeare.