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Shakespeare in Love (1998)


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

Critics Consensus: 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
Reviews Counted: 36
Fresh: 33
Rotten: 3

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


Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 225,124



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 … More

R (for sexuality)
Comedy , Romance
Directed By:
Written By:
Marc Norman , Tom Stoppard
In Theaters:
Aug 10, 1999
Miramax - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for Shakespeare in Love

All Critics (122) | Top Critics (36) | Fresh (112) | Rotten (10) | DVD (27)

[An] inordinately clever, sprightly romantic comedy.

Full Review… | February 11, 2014
New York Daily News
Top 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.

Full Review… | February 11, 2014
Washington Post
Top 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.

Full Review… | February 11, 2014
Wall Street Journal
Top Critic

A triumph of talent and style over silliness.

Full Review… | February 11, 2014
Seattle Times
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | February 11, 2014
Orlando Sentinel
Top 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.

Full Review… | February 11, 2014
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | February 11, 2014
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.

Full Review… | February 11, 2014
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.

Full Review… | February 11, 2014
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.

Full Review… | February 11, 2014
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.

Full Review… | February 11, 2014

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

Full Review… | February 11, 2014
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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

Full Review… | February 11, 2014
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.

Full Review… | February 24, 2013
Total Film

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

Full Review… | August 26, 2011
Three Movie Buffs

A cleverly scripted reworking of a period comedy.

Full Review… | February 20, 2008

Audience Reviews for Shakespeare in Love

Shakespeare in Love is a film that I really wanted to enjoy, but I simply didn't get into it. For me, it's a mediocre film, one that fails to really grab your attention and it really should have been something great. However this is a film that is killed by the hype, and watching this, I simply didn't understand its grandeur or reasons why it's superb cinema. Before I get flack for my review. I consider films like Lawrence of Arabia, Gone with the Wind, the Godfather to be great cinema. Not this. But that's my opinion. Shakespeare in Love felt like it just strived to please the board of the Academy, and it sure did, as it's your typical Oscar Bait film. I usually enjoy films such as this, but like I said, the film didn't grab my attention, I felt that there was something lacking in the film to really make it memorable. The cast did do a fine job in what they brought to the screen, but the film just tries far too hard to impress that it just ends up underwhelming. I felt that it didn't warrant an Oscar win, as there were far better films to win than this. Saving Private Ryan should have won, because it's a far superior, more emotional film, and one that is captivating from the first frame onwards. This on the other hand just feels tiresome in the long run, a film that is tedious and tries far too hard at grabbing your attention, and in doing so, you lose interest, and a film like this should have grabbed your attention effortlessly. But everything feels overdone, and it ends being a film that doesn't satisfy.

Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer


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.

Alexander Diminiano

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.

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.


Super Reviewer

Shakespeare in Love Quotes

Philip Henslowe:
See you in prison.
– Submitted by Mary Kathryn P (5 months ago)
Viola De Lesseps:
I don't know. It's a mystery.
– Submitted by Shiva K (22 months ago)
William Shakespeare:
Love denied blights the soul we owe to God.
– Submitted by Samira O (23 months ago)
Viola De Lesseps:
This is not life, Will. It is a stolen season.
– Submitted by Amelia C (2 years ago)
William Shakespeare:
Can you love a fool?
Viola De Lesseps:
Can you love a player?
– Submitted by Mauricio R (2 years ago)
Lord Wessex:
I have spoken to your father.
Viola De Lesseps:
So, my lord? I speak with him every day.
– Submitted by Mauricio R (2 years ago)

Discussion Forum

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