Surprisingly adept Shakespeare-themed historical romp from blockbuster director Roland Emmerich
Director Roland Emmerich is long established as the king of the apocalyptic blockbuster with a career defined by gung-ho event movies Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow. It is quite a surprise to witness him diving enthusiastically into a treacly 17th century conspiracy thriller intent on unmasking the true author of William Shakespeare’s plays. It’s a bit like Ken Loach putting his name to a frisky Hollywood rom-com.
Anonymous plays fast and loose with history as screenwriter John Orloff weaves a plausible yarn around the possibility that Edward de Vere, Earl Of Oxford (Rhys Ifans) was the unseen hand behind Hamlet, Richard III and countless others. Desperate to protect his position at court, de Vere selects the drunken, doltish thespian Shakespeare (Rafe Spall) as his stooge.
Intrigue and heartache are neatly balanced with a particularly irreverent depiction of an elderly, confused Elizabeth I (Vanessa Redgrave) as the mother of an untold number of illegitimate offspring. Extensive use of CGI paints an expansive view of London and its muddy multitudes. The facts may be suspect but Emmerich combines craftsmanship and a strong cast (David Thewlis, Helen Baxendale, Mark Rylance) to create a ripping historical romp.
General release from Fri 28 Oct.