• Anonymous was created to further the cause of the Oxfordian theory of Shakespeare authorship. It represents the beliefs of a fringe group of scholars who believe that Shakespeare was merely a front and that his works were actually authored by Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford. It is a theory that has been thoroughly and repeatedly debunked over the last few decades, and the movie does little to raise its status. It is a lavish spectacle that is reasonably entertaining, but its insistence that it is presenting the truth creates a few problems.
    • The movie spins a compelling yarn; one filled with intrigue, politicking, secrets, lies and just a hint of incest. It’s a fantastic story, but so little of it is true. Normally it wouldn’t be that big of a problem. Historical accuracy tends to be less important in cinema than thematic relevance. But the film is trying to make a case for a rather controversial theory. Its manipulation of history to make that case just doesn’t help its cause. Some artistic license might have been forgiven, but the film strays too far from the truth to ever be convincing.
    • The film is certainly well made. Roland Emmerich applies the same bombast to the movie as he does to any blockbuster. Period films about Shakespeare don’t tend to be thought of as exciting, but this movie moves with plenty of intent, and the scale of the production is pretty admirable. The acting is carried out with the same sense of bombast, but it’s balanced out with a few subtle details in the performances. Rhys Ifans is as good as he’s ever been as de Vere, finding deep levels of humanity beneath the character’s aristocratic veneer. Vanessa Redgrave is predictably amazing as the Queen, playing out an entire life of regrets in every scene she’s in.

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