Anonymous begins with a orator setting the scene for the audience much like the standard openings of Shakespearean performances which quickly guides the viewers into the film’s storyline based in 16th century England. An aspiring Playwright, Ben Jonson (Sebastian Armesto), has a gift for composing theatre scripts, but the political and controversial content of his plays puts a huge target on his back, and his productions are ordered to shut down. The Earl of Oxford (Rhys Ifans) happens to be amongst the crowd at one of Johnson’s performances and admires his writing talent. It turns out that The Earl also has a knack for writing, but the British Royalty Family deems all art forms as works of the devil which has caused him to hide his playwrighting passion away from society for years. The Earl decides to handover his life-long writings to Johnson so they can be performed for the masses. Through some twists and turns in the storyline, all of the credit for these masterpieces end up being given to an illiterate degenerate by the name of William Shakespeare.
I must admit that I was not enthusiastic about the plot of this film. As a fan of Shakespeare, it is nearly impossible to sway or persuade me to believe the long-standing claim that Shakespeare is not the author or creator of his famous literary works. Nevertheless, this film turned out to be extremely entertaining because not only was the topic based on Shakespeare but the whole concept also proved to be very Shakepeare-esk. With all of the lying, cheating, double-crossing, killing, and incestuous happenings, this screenplay was obviously inspired by the author it tries to debunk.
From the opening act to the closing scenes, you will be surrounded with beautiful sets, costumes, and literature; however, the flow of the story can prove to be confusing if you are not familiar with English Royal history. Add all of the different Dukes, Queens, Earls, Counts, Princesses, etc. in with a story that juggles back and forth from decade to decade with both young and old depictions of the characters, and you may end up wishing that the actors had worn name tags during the filming of this movie. With that being said, I still enjoyed this movie immensely and recommend it for any one who reads Shakespeare or loves a story with a twists and turns.
I give this movie a 3.0 out of 5 rating.