Shakespeare in Love


Shakespeare in Love

Critics Consensus

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



Reviews Counted: 138

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Average Rating: 3.4/5

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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 solvency on Shakespeare's new comedy, "Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate's Daughter." The problem is, "Romeo" is safely "locked away" in Shakespeare's head, which is to say that not a word of it is written. Meanwhile, the lovely Lady Viola (Gwyneth Paltrow) is an ardent theatre-goer -- scandalous for a woman of her breeding -- who especially admires Shakespeare's plays and, not incidentally, Bill himself. Alas, she's about to be sold as property into a loveless marriage by her mercenary father and shipped off to a Virginia tobacco plantation. But not before dressing up as a young man and winning the part of Romeo in the embryonic play. Shakespeare soon discovers the deception and goes along with it, using the blossoming love affair to ignite his muse. As William and Viola's romance grows in intensity and spirals towards its inevitable culmination, so, too, does the farcical comedy about Romeo and pirates transform into the timeless tragedy that is Romeo and Juliet. ~ Merle Bertrand, Rovi

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Gwyneth Paltrow
as Viola De Lesseps
Joseph Fiennes
as William Shakespeare
Geoffrey Rush
as Philip Henslowe
Colin Firth
as Lord Wessex
Ben Affleck
as Ned Alleyn
Judi Dench
as Queen Elizabeth
Rupert Everett
as Christopher Marlowe
Simon Callow
as Tilney, Master of the Revels
Jim Carter
as Ralph Bashford
Martin Clunes
as Richard Burbage
Antony Sher
as Dr. Moth
Tom Wilkinson
as Hugh Fennyman
Steven Beard
as Makepeace, The Peacemaker
Patrick Barlow
as Will Kempe
Bridget McConnel
as Lady in Waiting
Georgie Glen
as Lady in Waiting
Nicholas Boulton
as Henry Condell
Paul Bigley
as Peter, The Stage Manager
Jason Round
as Actor in Tavern
Adam Barker
as First Auditionee
Joe Roberts
as John Webster
Harry Gostelow
as Second Auditionee
Alan Cody
as Third Auditionee
David Curtiz
as John Hemmings
Gregor Truter
as James Hemmings
Simon Day
as First Boatman
Jill Baker
as Lady De Lesseps
Amber Glossop
as Scullery Maid
Robin Davies
as Master Plum
Hywel Simons
as Servant
Nicholas Le Prevost
as Sir Robert De Lesseps
Timothy Knightley
as Edward Pope
Mark Saban
as Augustine Philips
Bob Barrett
as George Bryan
Roger Morlidge
as James Armitage
Roger Frost
as Second Boatman
Rebecca Charles
as Chambermaid
Richard Gold
as Lord in Waiting
John Ramm
as Makepeace's Neighbor
Martin Neeley
as Paris/Lady Montague
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News & Interviews for Shakespeare in Love

Critic Reviews for Shakespeare in Love

All Critics (138) | Top Critics (42)

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.

Alex roy
Alex roy

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
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

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.

Daniel Perry
Daniel Perry

Super Reviewer

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