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Shakespeare in Love (1998)



Average Rating: 8.2/10
Reviews Counted: 122
Fresh: 112 | Rotten: 10

Endlessly witty, visually rapturous, and sweetly romantic, Shakespeare in Love is a delightful romantic comedy that succeeds on nearly every level.


Average Rating: 8/10
Critic Reviews: 35
Fresh: 32 | Rotten: 3

Endlessly witty, visually rapturous, and sweetly romantic, Shakespeare in Love is a delightful romantic comedy that succeeds on nearly every level.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 224,646

My Rating

Movie Info

William Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) is on a cold streak. Not only is he writing for Philip Henslowe (Geoffrey Rush), owner of "The Rose," a theatre whose doors are about to be closed by sadistic creditors, but he's got a nasty case of writer's block. Shakespeare hasn't written a hit in years. In fact, he hasn't written much of anything recently. Thus, the Bard finds himself in quite a bind when Henslowe, desperate to stave off another round of hot-coals-to-feet application, stakes The Rose's


Comedy, Romance

Marc Norman, Tom Stoppard

Aug 10, 1999

Miramax - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (122) | Top Critics (35) | Fresh (112) | Rotten (10) | DVD (27)

[An] inordinately clever, sprightly romantic comedy.

February 11, 2014 Full Review Source: New York Daily News
New York Daily News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It restores to centrality of consciousness one of the great geniuses of our civilization. It makes us care for his greatness, for his passion, for his worth. In no uncertain terms, it tells us Willie Boy is still here.

February 11, 2014 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Scene after scene engages us as cheerful groundlings, tosses us jokes, toys with our expectations, then sweeps away the boundaries between film and stage, comedy and tragedy so we're open to the power of language and the feelings behind it.

February 11, 2014 Full Review Source: Wall Street Journal
Wall Street Journal
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A triumph of talent and style over silliness.

February 11, 2014 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Hilarious, sexy, clever, playful and as initially teasing as it is ultimately satisfying.

February 11, 2014 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

I just wish that the script wasn't so insistent on showing off. Shakespeare, even when he kowtowed to the peasants, knew when to quit.

February 11, 2014 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Shakespeare In Love delivers the goods, if the goods you're in the market for happen to be a clever romance concerning William Shakespeare that's unlikely to cause anyone to reassess their notions of Shakespeare, romance, or enjoyment.

February 11, 2014 Full Review Source: AV Club
AV Club

This romantic farce has a talented cast and energy to spare, but somehow the ingredients don't burn as brightly as one would expect from such promising ingredients.

February 11, 2014 Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor
Christian Science Monitor

Get thee to the nearest movie theater showing Shakespeare in Love, a delightful comedy that sparkles with wit, literary smarts, passionate romance and expert acting by a glossy, enthusiastic cast.

February 11, 2014 Full Review Source: People Magazine
People Magazine

Taking the writing process behind Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet as its inspiration, John Madden's follow-up to Mrs Brown combines contemporary humour with a convincing 16th-century setting.

February 11, 2014 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

Shakespeare in Love crackles with the in-jokey brilliance that we associate with the playwright Tom Stoppard.... And you don't have to be a Shakespeare scholar to appreciate this movie's wit and easygoing references to the entertainment world today.

February 11, 2014 Full Review Source: Baltimore Sun
Baltimore Sun

Sniping at what's already been celebrated as a major national triumph always looks not-quite-cricket, but Madden's film is transparently one of those things that the British Do So Well, and the Americans fund so handsomely.

February 11, 2014 Full Review Source: Guardian [UK]
Guardian [UK]

The film is literate without being pretentious, bawdy without being gross and grounded in historical fact without being constricted by it.

February 11, 2014 Full Review Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Shakespeare in Love stands on its wonderful cast, its solid direction and very clever script.

February 11, 2014 Full Review Source: ABC Radio (Australia)
ABC Radio (Australia)

Entertaining, witty and acutely funny, with the ability to appeal to more than Shakespeare buffs. But for real fans of the Bard, it's a glorious treat that's smart and humorous, with highly appealing performances all round.

February 24, 2013 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

A brilliant and witty script by Tom Stoppard is brought to life by a great cast.

August 26, 2011 Full Review Source: Three Movie Buffs
Three Movie Buffs

A cleverly scripted reworking of a period comedy.

February 20, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4

Audience Reviews for Shakespeare in Love

It's amazing what little is actually known about William Shakespeare, despite the greatly influential playwright he was. Most of what we do know of him, in fact, leads back to his works, for which his life was often inspiration. Had Shakespeare not written Hamlet, we most likely would not know of his only son, Hamnet, who died at the age of eleven. The idea for Shakespeare in Love had been conceived long before its 1998 release. For several years, however, it was merely a question that had been posed regarding Shakespeare's love life.

The performances are a joy. For only eight minutes of total screen time, Judi Dench is especially memorable as the Queen. Her initial appearance marks one of the wittiest moments of the film itself. These scenes feature Dench swiftly dismissing each attempt Paltrow, who just as well delivers a jaw-dropping performance, makes to impress her. Paltrow bows down; Dench snaps, "Stand up straight." Paltrow breathes, "Your Highness," as an honorary salute; Dench retorts, "I know who I am." It's the condescending tone that is taken to an entirely new level in her character.
November 11, 2012

Super Reviewer

sweet and pleasant but completely unworthy of its oscar win. gwyneth is fine but again not award worthy. the divine judi dench certainly deserves awards but not for this. ben affleck is charming however in this trifle.
November 1, 2012
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

'Shakespeare in Love'. A genius, meta-adaptation of Shakespeare's 'Romeo and Juliet', telling the story behind the story. A magnificent screenplay about the very truth and nature of love.
August 31, 2012

Super Reviewer

I never thought it possible, but on the Gwyneth Paltrow's breasts front, I have to say: too much, too soon. I know, I know, it had to be established that this was a passionate love affair, and to the knukcle-dragging boyfriends watching this movie, there had to be a reason to keep watching, but the sex scenes in the early going actually had a negative impact. It got really boring by about the 45-minute mark, with the love affair having peaked early, leaving only the lacklustre Joseph Fiennes to invest in - very little was actually happening.

Thankfully, though, the few plot pieces that were tediously laid down did knit together a great second half, one in which even Ben Affleck did his damnedest to not suck (and more or less succeeded). Gwyneth Paltrow carried the movie in a few spots, balancing her two characters very well. Best Actress-well? The Academy thought so...

The story is at worst a plausible fiction, and contains many references to Shakespeare's life and work; the best and worst part of these references, however, is that they're playful, sometimes being clever and sometimes dragging the film down into camp. The film feels inauthentic, but it's quite glossy too... I'm not sure that it was better than Saving Private Ryan in 1998, but despite itself it turned out to be a rather good film.
October 29, 2011

Super Reviewer

    1. Viola De Lesseps: I don't know. It's a mystery.
    – Submitted by Shiva K (16 months ago)
    1. William Shakespeare: Love denied blights the soul we owe to God.
    – Submitted by Samira O (17 months ago)
    1. Viola De Lesseps: This is not life, Will. It is a stolen season.
    – Submitted by Amelia C (20 months ago)
    1. William Shakespeare: Can you love a fool?
    2. Viola De Lesseps: Can you love a player?
    – Submitted by Mauricio R (2 years ago)
    1. Lord Wessex: I have spoken to your father.
    2. Viola De Lesseps: So, my lord? I speak with him every day.
    – Submitted by Mauricio R (2 years ago)
    1. Hugh Fennyman: Henslowe! Do you know what happens to a man who doesn't pay his debts? His boots catch fire!
    – Submitted by rob g (2 years ago)
View all quotes (7)

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December 16, 2010:
Miramax and Weinsteins Plan Sequels to Shakespeare in Love, Rounders, and More
Miramax and the Weinstein Company have announced a new partnership that will yield sequels and...
February 4, 2009:
Exclusive: Inside Pinewood/Shepperton - A Photo Tour
Every year, the BAFTA film awards present a trophy for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema....
July 21, 2008:
Brush Up On Your Shakespeare With Our List Of The Bard's Best Films
Friends, readers, Tomato-fans, lend me your ears. Not stepping o'er the bounds of modesty, we at RT...

Foreign Titles

  • Shakespeare enamorado (ES)
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