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Opened in Theaters: Friday, December 25th, 1998

Directed by John Madden
Genre: Comedy
Running Time: 1:53

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Shakespeare in Love
Academy Award® Winner
The trials and tribulations of Will Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes), a struggling young playwright suffering from a dreadful bout of writer's block. No matter how hard he tries, he just can't seem to...  View more >

sex, nudity, brief profanity

Starring Joseph Fiennes, Gwyneth Paltrow, Geoffrey Rush...  View more >

Oscar Winner - Best Picture, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Gwyneth Paltrow), Best Supporting Actress (Judi Dench), Best...
View more information about this movie >

Reviews Summary

Rating # %  
See Now!  17 65 See Now! Percent
Good  6 23 Good Percent
Wait for Rental  3 12 Wait Percent
Stay Away!  0 0 Stay Away! Percent
26 Total Reviews

Please Note: Reader Reviews are submitted by the readers of The BigScreen Cinema Guide and represent their own personal opinions regarding this movie, and do not represent the views of The BigScreen Cinema Guide, or any of its associated entities.

[--- See Now! ---]by  Jan 25, 2000
This movie was wonderful and delightful. The costumes and makeup were fantastic! It will be a tough contender for Best Picture. Gwenyth Paltrow should be nominated for Best Actress. This movie deserves four stars and two thumbs up.

[--- See Now! ---]by  Jan 25, 2000
Easily the best movie of the year.

A romantic comedy that actually has romance. No cutsie "You Have Mail" mass market ripoff. This film has true passion, wit, and humor that vividly brings to life Shakespeare, his "contemporaries" and perhaps the greatest romantic story of all time, "Romeo and Juliet." If Ms Paltrow isn't the next Grace Kelly, I don't know who is. She so radiantly fills the screen that Shakespeare can't help but fall in love with her and so will anyone who sees this truly wonderful movie.

[--- See Now! ---]by  Jan 25, 2000
As a costume drama Shakespeare in Love succeeds quite well. As historical drama it leaves something to be desired. The issues of women playing in the theater is a 90's issue not an Elizabethan one. The actor who plays Juliet should have been younger with a voice that had not yet changed. The idea of the women being Romeo is an interesting paradox that Shakespeare would have loved and in fact dealt with in Twelfth Night and other plays. Paltrow is a good actress and Joseph Fiennes is quite passionate, yet inexclibably underplayed in the scenes from the play. The final scenes of Romeo and Juliet are rushed making the audience's outburst puzzling. Those actors just didn't seem to make it tragic enough. Nevertheless this film provides many discussion points and provides some Elizabethan theatrical history to audiences who have not been exposed to them before.

[--- See Now! ---]by  Jan 25, 2000
This movie was really wonderful. It had romance, comedy, great cast and beautiful costumes. I would highly recommend seeing this one!

[--- Wait for Rental ---]by  Jan 25, 2000
Hereís a case of a movie doing something other than what I wanted. The trailers intrigued me as I was ready to laugh at this interpretation of a Shakespeare needing inspiration to write his most famous play. The fact that the audience was "in" on the material should have made for many a humorous bit. And there were a few such moments. I saw most of them in the trailer. What I got in the movie, however, is a performance of Romeo & Juliet by Geoffrey Rush, Gwenneth Paltrow, and the rest of the cast. Itís much the same situation as 1996ís "Looking For Richard." I wanted more of the behind the scenes material instead of watching a performance of the play itself. Donít get me wrong. Iím not opposed to Shakespeare. Itís just that Iíve seen so many adaptations of the better known works that Iíd like to see something new brought to future endeavors: "William Shakespeareís Romeo & Juliet," the modern heavy-metal ridden movie with Leonardo DeCaprio ("Shakespeare on Drugs?") is a good example of a successful project of this nature.

10-point scale rating: 4

[--- See Now! ---]by  Jan 25, 2000
What is ultimately most powerful about this film is the way that all of its explosively good qualities: the chemistry of the cast, the passionately felt romance, the swoonderful camera movement, the life/art editing games, the cheeky modern references, Tom Stoppard's radiantly brilliant screenplay are all integrated to create a most accurate and thought-provoking meditation on the nature of Shakespeare's art. On the Elizabethan stage, there were no sets, so the writer had to create a sense of setting for the audience through the language of the play. Through artistic selectivity, the world created by the poetry could be used as metaphor for the larger passions of the drama itself. Therefore, just as the dramatic language would describe the setting, so the setting would inform the drama. But it was trusted to the audience to use its imagination to make these myriad of connections and Shakespeare's imagination to form this poetry and make it sing to the soul (intellectualizing isn't required in art; it must first be felt). What this movie, having dramatized this process, accomplishes is to suggest another dimension. The way the environment of Shakespeare himself influences his own passions (whether it be chance encounters, advice from a contemporary, the love a woman, or the loss of a woman) that are expressed in his poetic dramas reflects the very nature of his art (as described above) and further suggests the purpose. For through the multiple transformative powers of imagination, these passions are felt by the audience and obtain the potential to change that audience. Just as Bazz Luhrmann's sadly misunderstood "William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet," which also dealt with a similar theme but with much more inventive cinematic style, the pleasurable technique of "Shakespeare in Love" gives these ideas a modern resonance, relating the importance of Shakespeare's love and art with our human need for art. This need may be the theme of the great films of the year: along with "Snake Eyes," "Happiness," and "Velvet Goldmine," "Shakespeare in Love" is most deserving of the honor of being called Best Movie of the Year.

[--- See Now! ---]by  Jan 25, 2000
This is not a movie for everyone, but I was amazed (and delighted) to find the theatre nearly full for a 4:30, Saturday afternoon showing. Thank goodness there is still an audience for films of quality.

Being a Shakespeare scholar is not a requirement to enjoy this movie. If you know William Shakespeare was a playwright, and that there is something not quite right about the title "Romeo and Ethel, The Pirate's Daughter", you're educated enough. The movie utilizes many of the bard's own gags (mistaken identity, sexual double meanings, women posing as men and vice versa) to deliver a most enjoyable couple of hours. You sort of get an idea of what patrons of The Globe experienced as they watched the original productions. It's not snorting-in-the-aisles funny, but is surprisingly amusing and romantic.

Fine performances all around, including those of Gwenyth Paltrow and Geoffrey Rush. Joseph Fiennes appears to have walked straight over from the set of "Elizabeth", but his Shakespeare exults in the glory of love, rather than suffering love's cruelties.

We see some of the production of the final version of "Romeo and Juliet" and I found it interesting and moving to imagine the feelings of the audience, engrossed by the tragic story. And just as Shakespeare's plays were not too highbrow for Londoners of the 16th century, "Shakespeare in Love" is witty, romantic, and accessible to the average viewer looking for quality film-making today.

[--- Wait for Rental ---]by  Jan 25, 2000
I was surprised at how good the reviews were for this movie. I guess I expected more than what I got, considering all the raves. The movie was OK, but nothing I would hold my breath for. The costumes were great, I must admit, and there was some good humor in the movie. But nothing really stood out for me and said, "This is a Really good movie." The acting was OK (except for Horatio, who was really good), the plot was OK and the cinematography was OK. I don't regret spending $7 to see it, but I certainly won't see this movie twice.

[--- Good ---]by  Jan 25, 2000
By far, Joseph Fiennes is the reason to see this movie. Although the writing is witty from a distance, up close it is in desperate need of some good polishing. This film is one to see for those who have special affection for the playwright or for those who simply want to ogle over love amidst the brilliant poetry of the bard, himself. Screenplay gets a B-, Directing gets a C, Joseph Fiennes gets an A+++, Gwyneth a B. Photography is poor but the costumes make up for it. What were they thinking when they put modern, American Ben Affleck in a role that stopped before it began? Generally a better than average movie, though.

[--- See Now! ---]by  Jan 25, 2000
There are so few films today that have literate screenplays and are targeted to an audience wanting more than car crashes and bathroom humor, that Shakespeare in Love stands out among the many films released within the past year or two as a most welcome guest. It is a true romantic comedy that puts most contemporary romantic comedies to shame. The acting is uniformly excellent, with Gwyneth Paltrow giving a breakout performance. The screenplay intertwines the idiom of the sixteen century with that of 1990's cultural signposts. The art direction takes one back to Elizabethan times, and the final scene makes one long for a sequel.

[--- Wait for Rental ---]by  Jan 25, 2000
This film is fun in parts, but ultimately fatuous and unsatisfying. It bears many similarities to Monty Python's 'The Life Of Brian', in that it is an imaginative interpolationof historical event, but while the latter is consitently hilarious 'Shakepeare in Love'very rarely rises above its rather smug concept.

Also, in admittedly rather PC terms, this movie is consistently reactionary and predictable.It is what you might call 'heterosexually normative': it assumes the male/male situationsof Elizabethan theatre to be inherently artificial, with Joe and Gwyneth the 'natural' conclusionto which the movie aspires. Instead, it cops out to the standardised Hollywood love interest. And by the way, the 'Shall I compare thee...' sonnet was written to a male youth (the Earl of Southampton), not some putative belle with jawbones the size of a donkey's.

[--- Good ---]by  Jan 25, 2000
I highly recommend Shakespeare in Love. Passionate and sweet, itís only jarring note is an unbelievably omniscient queen who bustles in to save the play if not the day.

[--- See Now! ---]by  Jan 25, 2000
I haven't seen a movie of this caliber for many years. Good plot, good acting, good direction, good humor, realistic in its fantasy. Just the way Shakespeare would have produced it.

[--- See Now! ---]by  Jan 25, 2000
"Shakespeare in Love" is a wonderful movie! Despite the lack of information on Shakespeare's historical existence, it is marvelously true to the time, in a way that the movie "Elizabeth" lacks. Shakespeare is such an enigmatic character and Joseph Fiennes does a great job bringing him to life (again) and Gwenyth Paltrow is flawless (as usual). As a former student of Brit Lit, I loved all the colloquialisms that are speckled throughout the movie AND the oblique reference to John Webster, which is definitely worth watching for.

[--- See Now! ---]by  Jan 25, 2000
My favorite movie of the year! It's tone, the costuming, the dialogue: witty without making you wish you'd brought a dictionary, and most especially Joseph Fiennes. I had not seen him in a movie before, but I will again!

[--- Good ---]by  Jan 25, 2000
I need to confess that I was dragged to see it. I owed my wife a "love story" after about a dozen or so mindless, semi-plotless action films -- my favorite genre. Well, SIL was a good movie. I liked it. What can I say about Gwyneth?

Go see Shakespeare in Love Bubba. It won't hurt a bit.

[--- See Now! ---]by  Jan 25, 2000
Amazing! A true Oscar contender! This film works on a romantic level and a comic level, but never becomes sappy or silly. Kudos to all that worked on this project, including the director, John Madden (not the football guy, I'm sure).

Joseph Fiennes. I've never heard of this guy, but he's great. I truly believed he was the young Shakespeare. Gwyneth Paltrow proves that she can act, and gives possibly the most earnest performance in this film. Geoffrey Rush (hilarious!), Ben Affleck (strangely not out of place), Rupert Everett, and Judi Dench round out an outstanding supporting cast that seems to have the perfect chemistry for such an unlikely grouping of stars.

The screenplay manages to contain enough clever in-jokes for Shakespeare buffs while remaining accessible to other audiences, which is truly an accomplishment. You really don't need anything more than a high school-level knowledge of Shakespeare to understand most of the references. Even if you didn't get any Shakespeare in school, however, you'll still like this movie. It's got something for everyone!

[--- Good ---]by  Jan 25, 2000
First of all....I liked it (but not the first half hour). Okay, I know you are wondering what I meant by saying not the first half hour, that's because it was totally boring and I began to fall asleep. If you can last beyond the first 30 minutes, the movie picks up and you begin getting into it....but prior to that you are feeling like you did in high school when the English teacher said we are going to be reading Shakespeare this quarter. I do question how in the world they got nominated for so many Oscars, but we'll see how many they actually end up winning. If you are looking for period pieces, go see "Mrs. Brown" and "Elizabeth", which by the way share many of the same actors from this movie (do you think they got to keep their costumes?) Okay quick story review...lets follow young Bill Shakespeare as he falls in love and learns the lessons of love in order to write his classic "Romeo and Juliet". While this film was entertaining, it just isn't for everyone. Bottom line...if you are making a movie about 20 dates that you will be going on, then this definitely could be one of them. Rating: 6 of 10.

[--- See Now! ---]by  Jan 25, 2000
An excellant romantic comedy, made us feel good about love, romance, each other and we laughed over many funny scenes. See it on the big screen.

[--- See Now! ---]by  Jan 25, 2000
I am a serious movies lover since I was a kid. I'm a professional musician from Paraguay (jazz guitarist/composer/arr/orchestrator) and write music to TV from time to time, among other things.During the last 5 years I have been so much dissapointed when watching movies "of the 90s" and much more so watching Oscar-granted movies. So many times I could not find why such movie (or actor, whatever) was granted an Oscar. I found movies like "Independence Day", "Mission: Impossible", "Mars Attacks", "Tornado", etc. offensive to my psyche and intelligence and the human race as a whole, and plainly downright awful.

After so long, I have just seen "Shakespeare in Love". This is a feast for anyone's ears, eyes, and emotions (psyche). Cinematography ranks at its top here, as are costumes, make-up, presentation, etc. Paltrow is simply great (sensual, delicious, great voice, great rendering). Script writers Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard, and Director John Madden did a wonderful, unique job by putting together in a single film an apology of the marvelous existence of movies and theater, the melting of human emotions of all sort. The music is wonderful!. And, most of all (as we agred with my 15 ys old son when we got our of the movie after having watched the film, there not ONE second of celuloide that does not catch your full attention and that is dull, those moments of mediocre films when you say "...why is this scene here!...". I don't know how long "Shakespeare..." runs, but it ended too soon for me. This is one film that makes me believe again a wonderful blend of art/entertainment in the movies is taking place again. Don't miss it!

[--- See Now! ---]by  Jan 25, 2000
"Shakespeare In Love" is probably #5 on my top 10 list of 98. It was great. You see Gwynwth Paltrow naked, which may be good for some people (it was for me). It was a pretty good plot. It was about a man (Fiennes) who writes a play, "Romeo and Julleatte" who falls "hopelessly in love" with Queen Elizebeths dauter,Viola ( i think thats her name, i saw this a while ago) played by Gwyneth Paltrow. Viola gets a part in the play by disguising her herself as a man. I won't tell you any more because I don't want to ruin it for you!

I would rate this **** out of ****

[--- See Now! ---]by  Jan 25, 2000
What a great movie!!! This is the best movie having anything to with anythingabout William Shakespeare. I was glued to the screen the whole time. I didn't go to the bathroom or the snack stand because I didn't want to miss a thing. Excellent filmmakingall the Oscars were deserved except for Judi Dench, but I digress. Anyway this was a top 5 favorite of mine.


[--- See Now! ---]by  Jan 25, 2000
This is by far the best movie I've seen all year. If you like the story of Romeo and Juliet you have to see this movie!!

[--- Good ---]by VIP MemberJul 21, 2003
[--- See Now! ---]by VIP MemberOct 12, 2003
a wonderful comedy about author William Shakespeare who has a writer's block while writing "Romeo and Juliet." Along came Gwyneth Paltrow as a woman who helped him write the play. Joseph Finnes gives a great performance as Shakespeare. A genius of a playwright who is famous for writing all the plays. "Shakespeare in Love," is a witty comedy with a strong cast. the film is brilliant from direction, writing and acting. This film made me smile. I'll do the same for you. I saw the film twice on the big screen. One wonderful film.
[--- Good ---]by  May 27, 2012

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