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
William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet is generally thought to have been performed for the first time in 1595 or 1596. Shakespeare in Love has it performed in 1593, but this is part of the "secret history" which the film is "discovering". See more »
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."
I had high hopes for this film from the first time I saw the trailer. I am happy to say that the film lives up to the previews. Although it is an art house flick of sorts, it manages to be profound and accessible at the same time. So many art house films manage to be merely pretentious, as if aimed at those that want to believe that they are having an intellectual experience rather than those who are really open to one. This film shows that you can make a film of substance that is at the same time very entertaining.
One thing that stood out was the way they showed enough of the performance of Romeo and Juliet so that you could understand what the play is about, without making it a film of the play per se. There are many parallels between the fictional play and the events of the film, and this goes to underscore the relevance of great literature to the human condition. The actual performance of the play was acted so well that there were times when a character in the play was in a fight and I said to myself "they're really fighting, that guy really got stabbed!" So often a play within a movie is acted in a very staged manner, so this was a welcome surprise. And for anyone who is a fan of Shakespeare, it is easy to find little tidbits to reflect upon - such as the fact that Shakespeare himself was fond of the "play within a play" theme that we see in this film.
The performances are excellent throughout, including minor characters. In the midst of tragedy there is genuine comic relief, just as in Shakespeare. The historical details that surround the conjectural main plot are accurate down to the names of the actual people with whom Shakespeare crossed paths. In the end "Shakespeare in Love" causes us to feel as well as think, to think as well as to be entertained.
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