The Hittman Chronicle

Shakespeare in Love

"This is not life, Will. It is a stolen season"

Gratuitous Nudity:

Will Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) is in trouble. Helsolow (Geoffrey Rush), the owner of The Rose theater, is in debt to a loan shark and desperately needs a comedy to sell tickets and pay off his bills. Shakespeare has promised him his new play, "Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate's Daughter," but hasn't written a word. He comes close, when the affections of a whore inspire him to write the first scene, but then he catches her with another man and burns the script.

Enter Viola De Lesseps (Gwyneth Paltrow), a noble woman in love with the theater. She first shows up at an audition dressed as a boy. Later, Will meets her an a fancy party. They both fall quickly in love, and into bed. They don't have much time, as she is engaged to be married to Lord Wessex (Colin Firth) a brutish schemer, in two weeks. He intends to take her to his Virginia plantation, but suspects things are going on behind his back. This is confirmed when he presents her to Queen Elisabeth (Judi Dench) who tells him "She's been plucked since I saw her last -- and not by you. It takes a woman to know these things."

The plot thickens, with as many twists and turns as any of the Bard's real plays. As the movie advances, so does the script for Romeo and Ethel. Scenes from their romance become scenes in the play. As their romance heads for it's inevitable end the play turns into the world's best-known love story.

Shakespeare in Love works on about fifteen different levels. Everyone's acting is top notch. The story makes sense, is believable and fun to follow. The costumes are elaborate and beautiful. The sets are terrific. The characters are well written and superbly performed. The dialogue is sharp and witty. The cinematography is first rate. There are lots of references to Shakespeare's other works, so you can feel either sophisticated or amused by picking them out. Pseudointellectuals can impress each other by comparing the style of the movie to the style of The Bard's plays. There are enough jokes on the side to keep you entertained through subsequent viewings. It has sword fights, mystery, romance, drama, betrayal, humor, a dog, and plenty of Gwyneth Paltrow naked. What more could anyone ask for?

Chick: What could be more romantic than Romeo & Juliet and the romance that inspired it?
Gratuitous Nudity: Plenty of very tasty tasteful shots of Gwyneth Paltrow naked

© 2000 Dave Hitt

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