Anonymous review by Alyse Garner - Cinema Paradiso
A historical political thriller starring Rhys Ifans, Vanessa Redgrave, Rafe Spall and David Thewliss Anonymous is based on the conspiracy that William Shakespeare’s plays were in fact penned by The Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere.
Whether or not you agree with this idea doesn’t prevent Anonymous from marching right on in and doing everything within its power to convince you otherwise. It is an articulate, interesting movie that sparks with lust and greed and jealousy.
The character of Shakespeare is depicted in no way I have ever seen before; he is emotionally and intellectually stunted, barely more than the village idiot, making it impossible to believe that he could possibly have penned such masterpieces as he are afforded him. Instead Rhys Ifans plays a graceful and almost awe-inspiring character of intelligence, charm and presence.
The movie is set against the backdrop of the attempted Essex Rebellion, in which the Earl of Essex attempted to overthrow Elizabeth I played by both Vanessa Redgrave and her daughter Joely Richardson. The movie goes as far as to suggest that de Vere was even the Queen’s lover in her younger days and that it was she who inspired some of his most memorable and romantic moments.
Even if you believe the key aspect of the plot to be nonsense or the hidden truth, Anonymous is a sparkling two hours of fantastic dialogue, acting and set design that culminates in the creation of a highly entertaining and evocative drama.