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That was a strange experience…

I was bouncing between being surprised at how serious Emmerich took the task of focusing on the emotional side of his characters, the pain the Earl of Oxford feels and the suffering he puts his whole family in through his dedication to writing, pushing aside all the supposed chains and cuffs his family traditions pushes upon him – and the feeling that I do not want to see this kind of film from Emmerich… my fault, certainly, but then again if it wasn’t for his name, I would never even begin to consider seeing a costume drama/comedy about some apocryphal Shakespearean origin story. It’s all a bit nonsense, and cannot decide whether to fall on the comedic or on the dramatic side. I would not say that the film is constructed in an excessively complicated way – but it is constructed in an excessively complicated way if you expect a straightforward and entertaining plot about some kings and queens bashing each other over the throne succession and some illegitimate children trying to follow their true dedication. Again, my expectations were so mis-matched to what I saw that my brain refused to follow all those time layers and editing extravaganza. When I read the plot summary in Wikipedia after watching the film, I was not sure whether that was the same film that I saw. Oh mind, how doest thou betrayeth thyself…

“Anonymous” has a bunch of quite remarkable performances (especially Rhys Ifans as Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford and true author of the Shakespearean plays, as well as Vanessa Redgrave as a quite wicked Queen of England – that Queen in underwear is a sight not soon to be forgotten…). Some characters are, however, remarkably uninterestingly written and performed. Most remarkably unremarkable is William Shakespeare himself, who could have made for a pretty solid comic relief element, but whose script appearances are as seemingly random and disengaged as a witch’s nose hair.

All in all, there is not too much I can blame on the film, what it does it does solid, sometimes splendid and atmospheric. Maybe it just does not do the right thing, or it does too many things, or it is done by the wrong guys? I was a bit bored, and also a bit intrigued by what was going on.

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/anonymous_2011/

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