Shakespeare in Love, 1998
Directed by John Madden
Nominated for 13 Oscars, Won 7
Synopsis: Will Shakespeare is a struggling writer. He's gotten writersblock and is convinced he has lost his gift, while he has sold his upcoming play to two theatre companies, when he hasn't even written a word. In the past, he's written his plays after the beautiful women he's been with, made them his muse. But he has no prospects, until he meets Viola de Lesseps. She is a lover of the theatre and of Will's work. She goes undercover as a man so she may act in one of his plays, while trying to avoid Lord Wessex, the man she is promised to marry. It is a very short time before Will realizes this man in his play, Thomas Kent, is the same as the beautiful Viola and they soon strike up a love affair, which inspires one of the greatest love stories ever told.
Well, continuing on the Romeo and Juliet theme, I decided to watch Shakespeare in Love. Kidding, I didn't realize I would be watching to Shakespeare inspired films back to back. It just happened! But it was an interesting contrast, if I do say so myself. Between you and I, I preferred this film better, but not by too much, really.
First off, this film is packed filled with actors I actually recognize (shocking, I know), and I spent the first half an hour going, "oh! that's Lionel from the King's Speech!", "oh, and there's Bertie too!", "and look! mr weasley!", and "isn't that Chris Martin's wife?", to name a few. Included in the cast is Joseph Fiennes, Gwneyth Paltrow, Geoffrey Rush, Imedla Staunton, Colin Firth, Ben Affleck, Judi Dench, and a cameo from Rupert Everett. That being said, there is good reason all of these actors and actresses were chosen. They are very good at what they do, and fit their parts perfectly. So many of these actors I had seen in very opposite roles of what they portrayed in this film. Colin Firth was a disgusting, vile man, while he is timid and brave in the King's Speech and just plain dashing in Pride and Prejudice, for example. The acting was great, and felt Ms. Paltrow was very deserving of this Oscar.
While the story was interesting, and I found myself getting excited because I was like, "oooo, i know what this part is inspiring!" and wondering how the story will end because Romeo and Juliet end in a tragedy, I thought there was way too much sex. And it was unnecessary at that. While I understand the use of sex in films can enhance a character or a storyline, I felt almost all of it was unnecessary.
Also, while Joseph Fiennes acted very well, he didn't quite look the part, compared to the rest of the cast. For a lot of the movie I felt like I was looking at Adam Levine from Maroon 5, and he felt very out of place in his costume, and just in the film in general. Was it just to keep him "sexy" and make the story more "steamy" or whatever? If you haven't noticed, little things like this bother me, and I feel it leads away from their authenticity.
Overall, the film looks fantastic and is well acted. While the use of unnecessary sex and nudity was, well, unnecessary. The story didn't completely captivate me, and felt myself wishing for more. I felt like Viola and Will barely knew each other except for knowing each other's bodies. I didn't understand why they thought they were in love when really all we'd seen them do is write Will's play while making love. I felt there was a lack of connection there that could've been better written.
Overall, this film was alright, though I don't see why it won Best Picture. It was a good film, but I didn't see what was so "special" about it. Like many other people, I wonder why this film won over Saving Private Ryan, but there you have it. The Academy doesn't have to agree with everyone, and they didn't with me, this time.
Emotional Connection- 5/10
Overall Enjoyment- 5/10
Overall Package- 6.5/10