William Shakespeare wrote Much Ado About Nothing. The same title could easily apply to Anonymous.
I was able to catch Anonymous two days before it opens and I have to say I was a little let down. Originally, when I heard that it was to be directed by the man who gave us Godzilla and 10,000 BC, I was more than skeptical that he (Roland Emmerich) could deliver a period piece such as this. But after seeing the trailer, I was blown away at how good it looked.
The truth of the matter is, it’s neither great nor horrendous. But when a film like this is made on such a grand scale, with such a controversial topic, shouldn’t it leave the audience with more than just an “ok”?
Anonymous is political thriller of sorts, as it advances the theory that William Shakespeare did not write his own plays. History has claimed that it could have been Christopher Marlowe. In Anonymous, it is shown to be Edward De Vere (played by Rhys Ifans) the Earl of Oxford,who penned Shakespeare’s plays.
All of this is set against the backdrop of the Essex Rebellion against Queen Elizabeth I, played by Vanessa Redgrave as the old Elizabeth and by Joely Richardson as the young Elizabeth (Richardson is the real life daughter of Redgrave).
The film has far too many flaws to be considered good. I knew walking in, that they would play loose with the facts but this was a bit too much. Shakespeare is portrayed as an illiterate jackass, who spends more time scheming rather than “playing his part”. Elizabeth is shown as a bi-polar whore, who seems clueless about her kingdom. And let’s just say the twist ending left me thinking more about Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, and less about Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
The visuals are well done and the actors do the best with the script they were given. We may never know the whole truth about William Shakespeare, but Anonymous leaves us with more question marks than we had going in.
I give ANONYMOUS **1/2 out of ****.