William Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) is a known but struggling poet, playwright, and actor, who not only has sold his next play to both Philip Henslowe (Geoffrey Rush) and Richard Burbage (Martin Clunes), but now faces a far more difficult problem: he is bereft of ideas and has yet to begin writing. He is in search of his muse, the woman who will inspire him but all attempts fail him until he meets the beautiful Viola De Lesseps (Gwyneth Paltrow). She loves the theatre and would like nothing more than to take to the stage, but is forbidden from doing so as only men can be actors. She is also a great admirer of Shakespeare's works. Dressing as a man, and going by the name of "Thomas Kent", she auditions and is ideal for a part in his next play. Shakespeare soon sees through her disguise and they begin a love affair, one they know cannot end happily for them as he is already married and she has been promised to the dour Lord Wessex (Colin Firth). As the company rehearses his new play, ...Written by
A different end sequence. Here the conversation between Will and Viola is shorter than in the final film. After Viola has left Burbage enters and stops Will from running after Viola. He also takes the 50 pounds and says "Welcome to the Chamberlain's Men". The scene where Lord Wessex's ship sinks is also different. Here we see that Viola survives the drowning and is washed ashore an unknown coast. There she asks two people where she is. Their reply is "This is America".
A slightly different version of the scene where Burbank and his men fight against Will and his actors in the theatre. The sequence is largely the same as the scene used in the final film but parts are shown from different angles. A small conversation between Fennyman and Henslowe is added where they discuss about business.
A small scene which takes place after Henslowe has announced the audition. Here the two actors John and James walk to the court to play witnesses. When they meet the other actors and hear that Will Shakespeare needs actors for his new play they follow them to the audition.
A deleted take where Tom Wilkinson announces that he will be playing the apothecary. To Rushs question "How does the comedy end?" Fiennes replys "By God, I wish I knew". Then Rush says "By God, if you do not, who does? Let us have pirates, clowns and a happy ending and you'll make Harvey Weinstein a happy man."
After "Shakespeare in Love" won almost every nomination, and beat "Saving Private Ryan" for Best Picture, I decided I had to see it. I never got around to seeing it in the theater, and I had to wait for it to come to video. After seeing nearly all of this year's Best Picture nominees, I felt more inclined to see it than ever. I finally rented it on DVD, came home, popped it in, and expected a really great film. As much to my shock as was my disappointment, it wasn't.
"Shakespeare in Love" is not a bad film, and there are some things I liked about it. It was a sumptuous period piece, and I admired Geoffrey Rush's performance, since he never ceases to amaze me with his acting talent. Gwyneth Paltrow was fair, although her performance didn't stun me. However, the whole time I was watching this, my mind couldn't help but drift elsewhere, and I had to wake myself up in order to pay attention. My point is, it simply didn't grab me. Most of the Best Picture nominees and winners are films that grab my attention and have a strong influence on me. This one didn't. It was a cute love story, but not strong enough in my opinion to receive as much as a nomination. It deserved awards for costume and set design, and Geoffrey Rush's performance, otherwise no. This film was not one of the best films of 1998! No way!
Also, in the age of Columbine when theater owners are obsessive about carding children for getting into R-rated films, I can't see how this got an R-rating. So what if we caught a glimpse of Gwyneth Paltrow's boobies. "TITANIC" let us see Kate Winslet in full view, and that got a mild PG-13. There is no explicit violence or sex in "Shakespeare in Love". The MPAA's obsession with sex or nudity in any shape or form onscreen is uncanny.
As for the overall quality of "Shakespeare in Love", it was well done. I never said that it was a bad film, and I sort of liked it. However, the fact that it won the Academy Award for Best Picture, proclaiming it as the best film of 1998, does nothing but disappoint and anger me.
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