Anonymous is interesting, but could have been great–

I love Shakespeare! Truly, madly and deeply. And that is probably the reason I enjoyed most of Anonymous.  There has been a theory (Oxfordian) around for a long time now that questions if William Shakespeare was the author of all the acclaimed works written under that name.  This film addresses that interesting aspect, but it also involves some of the political intrigues of the time and that is where the story goes off the rails for me.  If they had stayed focused on Shakespeare and the Earl of Oxford (the true author according to the theory), I believe it could have been better.

The narrative starts strong, but then strays quickly into melodrama. Affairs–double-crossing–secret dreams–jealous playwrights-etc,etc.  Yeah, it strays into territory that seem unnecessary. 

They assembled a strong cast though.  Rhys Ifans is almost unrecognizable as the Earl of Oxford and he has the charisma and presence to play this role–I found myself wanting to believe that he was the one that wrote all the words I love.  Vanessa Redgrave plays the older Queen Elizabeth and is lovely.  (For a nice touch they got her daughter, Joely Richardson, to play the younger Elizabeth.)  And the underused David Thewlis is always a pleasure to watch–I wish they would have given him more to do than plot against the kingdom and object to things.

Anyway, back to the best part…the theory.  It does makes sense when you think about it–Shakespeare was illiterate, as were his children (why would he not educate them?)–how did he know so much about court etiquette if he was a mere actor?  Then again…brilliance can spring from the ordinary, right?.  Well…for me, it makes no difference who is the author–To quote “Shakespeare“… “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Indeed!  All that matters is that the work exists and we are all the better for it.