Let me start by saying I had been waiting a long time to see this movie.
I was not disappointed. I didn't know what to expect, really, and I must say that the trailers did not do a good job explaining the plot of this movie.
Which is, at its core, what if the plays attributed to William Shakespeare were, in fact, not written by William Shakespeare?
The movie itself was presented like it was a play. It's a bit hard to explain, it opens as if its being presented as a play then dives into the actual movie and I thought that was pretty brilliant. The appearance in general was amazing, it was quite the visual of late Tudor London.
I won't give too much away, but the movie takes us through a journey of what if the plays were written by a nobleman named Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford and apparent lover to Elizabeth I. There's many controversies presented, including the much debated idea that Elizabeth I had lovers and, in fact, multiple illegitimate children that were hidden by her adviser William Cecil.
The only problem I had with that was the particular boys they picked to be Elizabeth's children - was the Earl of Essex not Robert Devereux, the child of Lettiuce Knollys, great grandson of Mary Boleyn, and stepson of Robert Dudley? The incidents that happened imply that this is the same Essex, but they seem to have forgotten these facts....
Here's the wikipedia link, with many more details, a full cast list and some comments about the critical reception:
I loved the feel and the presentation of this movie. The filmmakers did a fantastic job in creating an atmosphere that really felt like late Elizabethan London. The casting was fantastic - Rhys Ifans was brilliant as the elder Edward de Vere, but I have to say that Ifans has been good in every movie I've ever seen him in. Vanessa Redgrave was fantastic as the elder Elizabeth I, and the casting of Redgrave's daughter Joely Richardson as the younger Elizabeth was so spot on it it was impressive. (you may remember Richardson as Katherine Parr in tv's The Tudors). I could not name the actor who played Shakespeare, an opportunist actor who took it upon himself to make himself appear to be the author of these plays as opposed to another and milk it for everything he could get, but he was very good.
And, the young man who played Arthur in the most recent tv version of Camelot played the young Edward de Vere - he was fantastic as Arthur, but not given enough screen time to do much in this role. It was nice to see his face, and I expect to see more of him.
Other than that little thing about Essex, this movie was lovely. Totally worth watching on a variety of levels - for historical fans, for conspiracy fans, and for Shakespeare fans. And for Rhys Ifans.