Movie Information

In Brief: Campy, ludicrous tosh that purports to tell the "true story" of the origin of Shakespeare's plays. It doesn't even come close, but it presents a terrific cast declaiming hysterical dialogue in rich settings and is a lot of fun -- if you don't take it seriously, which the director amusingly seems to.
Genre: Preposterous Historical Revisionist Melodrama
Director: Roland Emmerich
Starring: Rhys Ifans, Vanessa Redgrave, Sebastian Armesto, Rafe Spall, David Thewlis, Jamie Campbell Bower, Joely Richardson
Rated: PG-13

High on the list of the most giddily inane projects ever to come down the cinema lane is Roland Emmerich’s overheated, simple-minded and absolutely preposterous yarn that purports to dish the dirt on how William Shakespeare (played by Rafe Spall as a horny, talentless illiterate) didn’t really write all those plays. No, indeedy. According to the movie, it was the doing of Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford (Rhys Ifans), who had to do it all anonymously rather than disgrace the title by lowering himself to the status of a (gasp) writer. And even more so, you see, because he was using the plays to attack his political opponents. Yes, there is in fact a group of folks—called “Oxfordians”—who subscribe to this theory. They do not, however, subscribe to Emmerich’s hysterically over-the-top take on the idea. It’s hard to blame them. However, approached in the right frame—which is to say, in the full knowledge that this is all pure twaddle—the film is still a good deal of over-stuffed, overheated, over-produced fun. For my original review go to:

The Hendersonville Film Society will show Anonymous at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 22, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community (behind Epic Cinemas), 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville.


About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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