Saturday, April 16, 2011

Shakespeare in Love (1998)

Cinema Sweetheart's Rating: 9 out of 10
Director: John Madden
Starring: Joseph Fiennes, Gwyneth Paltrow, Geoffrey Rush
Rated: R
Genre: Romance, Comedy, Drama, Historical
Runtime: 123 minutes

William Shakespeare (Fiennes) is in trouble.  Not only has he sold his latest play (which he has yet to write), but he finds himself unable to write, and does not have a muse to inspire him.  He finds his muse in the form of Thomas Kent (Paltrow), a young actor who is actually noblewoman Viola de Lesseps  in disguise.  The two of them fall in love, but, like any of Shakespeare's plays, there are complications. And what starts off as Twelfth Night soon becomes Romeo and Juliet.  Viola finds herself in an unwanted engagement to Lord Wessex (Colin Firth) and Shakespeare reveals that he's already married to someone else.  What follows is a beautiful, if not tragic piece.

Now, I'm sure that I'm going to get in trouble for this....but I have to say that I don't like Gwyneth Paltrow.  I really don't.  So, when I saw her name on the DVD box, I was hesitant to check this out.  But, I was in desperate need of a good romance (I was depressed by aspects of my own love life), and the plot sounded very tempting.  After seeing this film, I feel as though I owe her an apology.  I really enjoyed her performance; in fact, she was wonderful!  I loved the character of Thomas Kent (and of course, Viola).  The idea of a woman pretending to be a man is, of course, not foreign to Shakespeare's works, and I loved how it was incorporated into the storyline.

As an English major, I was delighted by the literary references that were scattered throughout.  However, I'm not much of a romantic, and I thought that many of the love scenes (mostly the bedroom scenes) dragged on.  However, there were plenty of moments that made me gasp and "awww!"  It was, all in all, a delightful film. 

I'd recommend reading both Romeo and Juliet and Twelfth Night before watching this movie, or if you've already seen it, before watching it again.  There are various references that the average viewer might not pick up on if they haven't read them.  (And please don't say "I haven't read Romeo and Juliet, but I know what happens, so I don't have to."  There are references you wouldn't get if you hadn't of read it.  There is so much more than falling in love, potions, and death!)

This was one of the best movies I've seen in a while!  Normally, I don't like romances because I find them to be too predictable and "drippy".  But, this was one that I actually enjoyed very much, and I'd love to see more like it.  It appealed both to my English major persona, and to my inner romantic (apparently, there is one, deep down :P).


  1. I LOVE this movie! Definitely the best romantic drama ever made. I've never felt for two characters in love more than these two. Fiennes and Paltrow give flawless performances that are arguably the best of their careers. Glad to see you liked it as much as I did (although I would have given it 10/10) lol :)

  2. I can't even count how many times I've watched this movie! 'Prose Will!' I love it!


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