Age Restriction:
Anonymous Pictures
Centropolis Entertainment
Relativity Media
Studio Babelsberg Motion Pictures
Running Time: 130 minutes

Verdict: 2 / 5

Anonymous is far too long-winded and indulgent. The speculations made were so far fetched that it would have been best to rename the characters and promote it as a complete work of fiction. Though watchable it felt like it was trying to capture the essence of ‘Shakespeare in Love’ and falls far far short of it.

PLOT: The story sets us up to believe that Shakespeare was the Duke of Oxford writing anonymously via a mediocre playwright and in a non-linear way tells his story as the young and old duke (which revolves mainly around his struggle with his family to write and be published, his involvement with the queen, his political intrigues, his scandals and his journey to having his plays performed and remembered).

Anonymous - Poster

Anonymous weaves an elaborate web of political intrigue and scandal around the theory of the life of Shakespeare and who he may really have been. It could perhaps had been better received had they not tried to alter history by weaving these tales around real historic figures. Queen Elizabeth would turn around in her grave if she knew half of what they have added to her legacy. It is an adequate work of fiction but hardly something I would add to the historic archives or my movie shelf. I found such speculations and additions to what we already know to be distracting at best as it meddles greatly with ones ability to suspend disbelief and enjoy the movie.

The cast put in commendable performances and Anonymous certainly went all out as far as production design and costumes were concerned. Despite the grandness of it it fails to draw you in the way ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ and ‘Shakespeare in Love’ did having lacked just that special aesthetic element needed to make it art. Also the story was not quite captivating enough to justify the length of the movie, i.e. if you have a movie longer than an hour and a half you’d best make sure it’s got the epic nature and plot of the Titanic or Lord of the rings if you don’t want to lose your audience – even then it is a gamble.

Anonymous - Insert

Another problem is that this kind of movie would appeal to the more refined and educated viewer however those are exactly the kind of people who will have enough knowledge to find the elaborate tales and additions to history hindersome. For example the movie would have you believe that the Duke of Oxford was a supressed writer who wrote anonymously via a playwright, that he had an affair with the queen (but was also unknowingly to him the illegitimate first born son of the queen) and had an illegitimate child with her, i.e. the Duke of Southhampton (the son/grandson of the queen). There are also bits of treason and stuff like that.

Taking everything into account it was not a bad movie just lacking in greatness. There was enough to look at and follow in terms of plot and production design if you managed to get through the sheer length and complicated intrigues.

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  1. I actually really enjoyed Anonymous. While the plot was over the top – the theory that Shakespeare didn’t write these plays was very interesting – coupled with the fact that the FX and wardrobe were amazing – I would have given this 3 or 3 and a 1/2 stars. Challenging our views on Shakespeare seems blasphemous I know, but it was well executed. Also the cast’s performances were excellent.

    • Elisma

      I did like the way they hypothesised about shakespeare’s potential background and I have always been a fan of period movies, hence the special mention on the production design, there was great attention to detail, but having seen too many I suppose I just wasn’t blown away and I just did feel that there was something lacking on the aesthetic front but I believe it might have been that with such amazing costume I expected more from the cinematography and post production. There was so very much they could have done with it. I judge each genre according to it’s own merits and competitors in the field. Perhaps I am a harsher judge on these period movies as I am so fond of them and because there is such stiff competition out there… like Shakespeare in Love, Girl with a Pearl Earring, Stage Beauty, Pride and Prejudice, Man in the Iron Mask, Phantom of the Opera, Sense & Sensibility, Amadeus, Atonement, The Count of Monte Christo etc. etc. Had they kept the movie shorter and stuck to the premise of their tale rather than getting carried away and indulging in the narrative then it would have rated much much higher. It just left me feeling like I wanted so much more from it. Having a great cast, great idea and great wardrobe just wasn’t enough, just like there are other movies that I tremendously enjoyed watching for their attention to detail like Dorian Gray, The Duchess that just wouldn’t have quite hit the same rating as the rest as I would have had to lower the bar overall which just wouldn’t be fair to the truly epic ones out there. But I see where you are coming from and how other people could have rated it higher,will keep that in mind. :-)

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