You will think now "What? Why does she write about this old film now?". I can tell you why: because I watched "Shakespeare in Love" first when it came out - and found it boring, strange and completely redundant. Last week then I had my final university exam about "Elisabethan Theatre" and, as I am the most lazy and but clever person in the world, my preparation finished with watching the film again.
Will Shakespeare is a known but struggling poet, playwright and actor
who not only has sold his next play to both Philip Henslowe and Richard
Burbage 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. 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 see 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. As the company rehearses his new play, Will and
Viola's love is transferred to the written page leading to the
masterpiece that is Romeo and Juliet. (imdb)
I blame it on my young age back in 1998 that the film for me wasn´t an instant hit. Now I enjoyed it a lot. The plot is a good mix between romantic fiction and historical authenticity. There are so many different layers, so many cross references to his 39 plays - I guess the film is entertaining if you would have never heard of good old Will Shakespeare but the more background knowledge you´ve got the more fun you will have watching.
The line-up of great actors is pretty amazing too. I´m probably one of the few ladies who actually doesn´t fancy Joseph Fiennes and it is strange to see Gwyneth Paltrow playing yet another English character but it was fun to see lovely Colin Firth playing a baddie and Judy Dench´s portrait of an old and scary Elisabeth I..
A great film that I had overlooked for too long. The more you are into Elisabethan theatre, the more you will enjoy it!
(By the way, got a 1,3 in the exam and have been told that I´m "obviously an expert on Elisabethan Theatre" - sometimes it pays being a sloth ;-))