Well done on all fronts.Let the record show that I'm not really a Gwenyth Paltrow fan. I deplored her in the remake of Great Expectations, and the whole "new accent with each movie" thing kind of bugs me. But I was completely won over here. I'd heard a lot of things about this movie, and I didn't expect it to live up to those expectations. But it did. It surpassed them.
Young Will Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) is having a bit of a problem with writer's block. But he nonetheless churns out what theater owner Philip Henslowe (Geoffrey Rush) hopes is the next big hit: "Romeo And Ethel - The Pirate's Daughter." It's supposed to have sword fights, comedy and a dog. Shakespeare just wants to make enough cash to join another writer and rival, Christopher Marlowe (Rupert Everett), at a different theater. He's tired of being a hired gun, so to speak.
While casting Romeo And Ethel, Will meets Viola De Lesseps (Paltrow), although she wants to be in a play, in a time when women weren't allowed on stage. So he meets her as she's dressed up as a man, and only later as a woman, whom he falls in love with. Alas, she's supposed to be marrying another. Still, Viola becomes Will's muse, and Romeo And Ethel - The Pirate's Daughter, an adventure story, begat Romeo And Juliet, the most well-known love story/tragedy of our time.
That is only part of the story. Aside from the romance and the crossdressing, there's a fair dose of comedy, too. It's very smartly written, incorporating a lot of modern touches (like Will with his therapist) to an older setting.
I really enjoyed the performances here. Paltrow was radiant. It's arguably the best performance I've seen from her. Fiennes also surprised me. He's hopefully got more common sense than his brother, so we'll be lucky if he doesn't end up in any TV shows-turned-movie bombs. The rest of the cast is pretty good as well. Rush is quite funny, complete with Billy Bob Thornton teeth, and Ben Affleck does fine in a small role as cocky actor Ned Alleyn. The costuming is at times wonderful, and at times outlandish (what's up with Dame Judi Dench's Queen Elizabeth wearing a ball of yarn on her head?), but this is definitely a quality production.I don't know if it's worthy of 13 Oscar nominations, but it's definitely worth seeing.