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Shakespeare in Love

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Shakespeare in Love

Starring: Joseph Fiennes, Gwyneth Paltrow
Director: John Madden
Rated: R
RunTime: 122 Minutes
Release Date: December 1998
Genres: Comedy, Romance

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Review by Susan Granger
4 stars out of 4

At last, a juicy, funny, romantic comedy - aimed at adults! Cleverly written by Marc Norman & Tom Stoppard and brilliantly directed by John Madden, this charming story, set in 1594, introduces Will Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) as a young English playwright struggling with plots, characters, deadlines - and writer's bloc. And he's in competition with Christopher Marlowe, who writes for a rival theater. And his producer (Geoffrey Rush) is deeply in debt to the local moneylender (Tom Wilkinson) whose methods of collection are insidious. Just as the future of their Rose Theater looks dire, a wealthy merchant's daughter, Viola De Lesseps (Gwyneth Paltrow), who swoons over Will's sonnets, decides to masquerade as a boy (since girls were not allowed to perform on the stage at that time) and audition for "Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate King's Daughter," one of Will's works-in-progress. She's hired immediately, as Will is enchanted with the recitations of his new "Romeo" until, of course, he discovers he is a she - at which point the bawdy Bard slips between the radiant maiden's sheets - but, by then, Queen Elizabeth I (Judi Dench) has promised her in marriage to Lord Wessex, a cold, arrogant Virginia tobacco farmer (Colin Firth). All's well that ends well and, if their escapades resemble "Twelfth Night," that's no coincidence. In true Shakespearean form, there are mistaken identities, sight gags, ghosts, sword-fights, betrayal, lies - and a dog. You don't have to know Shakespeare to enjoy this incandescent film but the more you know, the more you will appreciate its hilarious wit. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Shakespeare in Love" is an enchanting, richly comic 10. Not only one of my 10 Best Pictures of the Year but one of the major Oscar contenders.

Copyright 2000 Susan Granger

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