1998 Running time: 122 Certificate: 15 Rating: 5

Synopsis

What's in a name - well, the title does a pretty good job of describing this star-cross'd and star-studded historical caper that won seven Oscars including Best Picture and Best Actress for Gwyneth Paltrow. She plays the fair but headstrong maiden who inspires a struggling playwright named William Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) to write Romeo and Juliet. But the plot thickens muchly more than that as the young lovers are caught up in the skulduggery and hey nonny nonny that forever swirls around the Royal Court. Judi Dench was crowned Best Supporting Actress for her eight-minute performance as Queen Elizabeth I, but then everything sparkles about this romantic gem. You will be amused.

Director

  • John Madden

Cast

  • Gwyneth Paltrow

  • Joseph Fiennes

  • Geoffrey Rush

  • Judi Dench

  • Colin Firth

  • Ben Affleck

Review

A great and glorious dose of cinema which won seven Oscars, including Best Actress for Gwyneth Paltrow and Best Picture.

This colourful and rumbustious tale of late 16th-century England gets its anachronistic jokes - even these are funny, like the mug marked 'A present from Stratford-on-Avon' - out of the way in the first reel and launches full-tilt into the near-fatal attraction of penniless playwright Will Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) for the high-born Lady Viola (Paltrow) who yearns to become the first Englishwoman to appear on the stage

In no time she's auditioning dressed as a youth and has won the role of Romeo in Will's new play. This not only unlocks his writer's block but leads to his headlong (and headstrong) pursuit of Viola (female variety), using her male counterpart as a go-between.

Wittily written, richly set and vigorously directed by John Madden, the film succeeds at pretty well every direction it cares to turn.

Fiennes and Paltrow (honing her mah-vellous English accent) are convincing both as lovers and actors. In a starry cast, Tom Wilkinson, Antony Sher, Judi Dench (who won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her eight-minute performance as The Queen), Geoffrey Rush and Imelda Staunton all have golden moments.

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