Shakespeare in Love (1998) Review

This film carries very high expectations with its Best Picture Oscar win along with Best Actress in a Leading Role and Supporting Role along with four other wins and many more nominations. So it is a difficult film to watch without expecting too much from it!

I have now seen this film a few times and have to admit that I like it a little bit more after each viewing. I think the idea of William Shakespeare getting inspiration to write Romeo and Juliet while playing with the idea of women in the theatre, mixing it all together to create Shakespeare in Love.

With an incredible cast put together of some fantastic British actors and actresses at the core it really was always going to be an Oscar contender as let’s face it Oscar loves British. You don’t get much more British than Shakespeare and Judi Dench as Elizabeth I . . . Picking up her Oscar for the shortest amount of screen time. But she is so good!

The story has its twists and turns, with Shakespeare and Viola living like Romeo and Juliet. But the name Viola and the cross dressing leads very nicely into the creation of Twelfth Night. Yes I have an A-Level in English Literature and have a good background knowledge of Shakespeare. Plus Twelfth Night was probably my favorite as read that a couple of times.

But this film has a very good mix of romance, drama and comedy. I wouldn’t really go out and call it a romantic comedy as I think the comedy part is kept away from the romance part very well. The romance is more dramatic and that is the whole point of the film. After a wager is placed that a play can or cannot show real love, which is obviously what Shakespeare set’s out to do.

I like the idea of Shakespeare using his personal experiences and affairs to write the plays that are still so well-known to this day. It gives us some major thinking points about what goes into writing a play and managing to put it all together. That maybe going a little bit deep with this film, but that is something it shows.

The romance which at times is probably just lust but develops into so much more. Viola has two men trying to get her attention and even gets married despite her affair and love for Shakespeare. But isn’t that how a real love affair is meant to go? You don’t end up together in the end?

So I really do enjoy this film and think you need to approach with an open mind if you have no seen it before. Enjoy it but don’t  build it up too much!

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