Anonymous – 3/5 – Movie Reviews by RY!

Anonymous – 3/5 – Uniqueness is something that gets lost in many films.  With the clump into typical genres, creativeness can get drowned out for the betterment of making money.  Sometimes those, we have films that, no matter where they are set, are unique on their own.  This is one of those films.  This film is set on the backdrop of the succession of Queen Elizabeth I, as well as the Essex rebellion.   The premise of the film is based on a theory though.  That theory is that Edward De Vere/Earl of Oxford (Rhys Ifans) penned Shakespeare’s play.

Edward De Vere is the Earl of Oxford.  Here, Edward’s life progresses through flashbacks from a young child to the end of his life.  He is portrayed as a child prodigy who writes and performs A Midsummer Night’s Dream for a young Elizabeth I.   A series of event are shown, as his plays are being performed by a front man, and the now known writer of these plays, Shakespeare.  When it comes to the acting, the main character is the standout.  The main character is played by Rhys Ifans.  He does a swell job in this role, bringing vividness and color to a lackluster cast.  Also, with his English accent, he is very captivating and endearing for the times.  He made you feel for the words he wrote in every play.  Through the movie, you feel for the journey he presents, and you feel the rawness in what he wants to achieve.  Outside of the Earl, all the other characters play out as typical archetypes of a movie set during this time period.  Some of the common caricatures you see are the standard schemers, villains of the English court, aloof ignorant fools of the poor and the common and fretful unsung hero.  None of these actors/actresses that play these roles try to break the cliché model, and just fall to the wayside to the overwhelming feeling of the story.

The direction of the film starts off simple, but eventually becomes a convoluted mess.  From the beginning, it quickly (without any defines) throws you into the 1600 century.  The direction then proceeds to switching between the present times of where it is set in the 1600s, to the history that  builds up to the issues that revolve around the main characters hidden secret, Essex rebellion and succession of the Queen.  The movie’s overlapping stories cause the focus to become diluted, and you are caught in a web of too many character point-of-views at the same time (examples: Shakespeare and the plays, Queen Elizabeth, the Cecil’s secret motives and the Queen’s bastard child).  Trying to juggle all these plot points causes a fracture to the film’s structure, making it less cohesive.  When the movie begins to bring everything to a single compositional storyline, you honestly don’t care about anything in the movie but Rhys Ifan’s great performance and his own singular motive. That motive is, for all the affairs, politics and conflict’s in the queen’s court, it is his words that spoke true throughout everything, given anonymously through the eyes of Shakespeare.

One of the very strong points of the movie is its cinematography.  The movie is a gem of what the 1600s would be like.  This world of the 1600s is felt throughout the movie, from the buildings and structures, all the way down to how everyone dresses.  All of this is done perfectly, and with true elegance.  You felt so engrossed during this time in London, you are kept engaged in what you see, even when the story was all over the place at times.  The score was passé, and pretty much nonexistant.

Overall, this movie is filled with a few pluses, but a lot of negatives.  For the great atmosphere created from costume and visual design, the story is just a straight up mess.  There is a lack of focus on any one character, and when it happens, you really lose any hope of the movie being good.  Rhys Ifans does a great job in his role, but that is the only standout from the cast of characters.  I would recommend this film for people intrigued on unique filmmaking, but other than that, I’d say it is a rental for the night.

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