Time Out rating:
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Time Out says
Tue Oct 25 2011Gadzooks! Roland Emmerich, the master of multiplex mayhem, takes time out from destroying the world to concoct this delirious historical romp which suggests that Shakespeare’s plays were not the product of a failed actor from the West Midlands, but sprang from the mind of rebellious aristocrat, the Earl of Oxford (Rhys Ifans). Keen insight and rapier-like subtlety are not Emmerich’s strong suits, so instead he has chosen the path of pure excess: bodices are ripped, swords unsheathed, moustachioes waxed, pantaloons tightened and scenery chewed; every villain wears a dastardly leer and every hero a proud glint.
But ‘Anonymous’ is not simply slapstick and silliness: John Orloff’s meaty script handles the central art versus politics debate in broad but convincing terms, and his placing of Shakespeare’s texts in a contemporary political context lends the fiery on-stage scenes within the newly built Globe theatre a genuine charge. The cast is strong, and while shameless hams like Rafe Spall as boozy, womanising gadabout Will Shakespeare and Edward Hogg as hunched, Richard III-alike Robert Cecil tend to steal the show, there are moments of subtlety, with the mother-daughter team of Joely Richardson and Vanessa Redgrave bringing unexpected pathos to their roles as Queen Bess. But the most pleasing aspect of ‘Anonymous’ is its sheer sense of fun. Think of it as a high-end Christmas panto, as a red-faced, enthusiastic cast are put through the paces by their barking, domineering director. Louder, faster, bigger, more!
Author: Tom Huddleston