Shakespeare in Love (1998)

4 Kernels

Stars: Gwyneth Paltrow, Joseph Fiennes, John Madden, Geoffrey Rush, and Ben Affleck

It’s been some time since I’ve watched this movie. I saw it when it originally came out, pretty much went on with life, and recently watched it again. Twelve years ago, I don’t think it impressed me as much as it did the last time I clicked play. It’s obvious that my life’s experiences over the years have changed my view of the movie. Does that ever happen to you?

In spite of the recent controversy stirred by the movie Anonymous over who really wrote the works of Shakespeare, one cannot help but honor the writer of the wonderful words he penned. I do know everyone screamed “foul” when Shakespeare in Love won the Oscar for best picture beating out Private Ryan. Perhaps the voters were in the mood for love, rather than entrails, blood, and gore. If you look at the reviews, you’ll see it’s really one of those love/hate relationships with viewers.

Frankly, I think there is a hidden brilliance behind this movie. It’s about the author who writes a love tragedy, while he lives out his own tragedy with the woman he loves. The affair between William and Viola ensues, and when it does, the well of inspiration Shakespeare thought had gone dry, suddenly springs forth renewed. Their scandalous affair leads to the penning of Romeo and Juliet.

As the story evolves, so does the tragic truth that they will never be together. He is bound by a previous marriage and lives a life of a lowly playwright and poet, while the woman he loves is bound by the Queen’s command and her father to wed another. The stage is set for a love affair that ends in loss and separation. When he realizes how their end will play out, he writes the tragic conclusion to the infamous play. Romeo is a man who cannot live without the woman he loves, much how William feels over his current situation.

When William’s debut of Romeo and Juliet is performed for the first time, by strange circumstances they play the roles — Will as Romeo and Viola as Juliet. Of course, in that day, women couldn’t be on stage, but Viola all along has violated that rule due to her desire to act. Their hearts are torn playing their parts, as they both know their lives will be torn asunder as soon as the play ends. She married that very day. Each are forced to follow another path — two star-crossed lovers unable to have one another. Alas, it was not meant to be.

As far as the stars, I wasn’t enthralled seeing Colin Firth act like a sod. Judy Dench was fine, as usual, in a short role of Queen Elizabeth I. She won the Oscar for best supporting role.

Gwyneth Paltrow and Geoffrey Rush were their usual on film. Gwyneth, for me at least, always seems the same on film, no matter what the role. Nevertheless, she walked away with an Oscar for best actress that year. Cate Blanchett was nominated for her role in Elizabeth, which I thought was far more deserving. :tosses in my two cents:

Joseph Fiennes as William Shakespeare makes for good eye candy. He plays well the role of the tortured writer, searching for his muse, passionate about life and storytelling. Fiennes’ eyes are very expressive. :tosses in another two cents:

Favorite Lines: (Hugh Fennyman) Who’s that? (Philip Henslowe) Nobody. He’s the author.

(Isn’t that the truth! LOL)

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