Do you remember the movie Shakespeare in Love? Won five Academy Awards? I happened to catch it on Encore recently. Having been so immersed in Shakespeare’s world the past few years as I worked on Kissing Shakespeare, I watched it with a new appreciation. I’d already seen it, of course, but this time, it meant so much more than when I first saw it in the theaters. Like many of the Bard’s comedies, it has a bittersweet ending. The only fault I found with it was Gwyneth Paltrow’s false moustache and goatee. She doesn’t look the least bit like a man; she just looks, well, silly.
But otherwise, I loved the romance, the humor, and all the funny bits about how Shakespeare got ideas and inspiration, especially as he works on the current production of Romeo and Juliet (working title, Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter), with Viola (Paltrow) as his muse. When Viola sails off to Virginia with Lord Wessex (Colin Firth), her new husband, the clever foreshadowing of the plot of Twelfth Night helps us to get over the separation of the two lovers. Gwyneth Paltrow deserved the Oscar for her role. She’s luminous. Her face is a palette of emotions, and she positively glows in Will Shakespeare’s presence.
Interestingly, Shakespeare’s marriage to Anne Hathaway is only mentioned in passing. The audience very much wants to believe that if not for the pesky Lord Wessex, Viola and Will could live happily ever after. Too much emphasis on the fact that Shakespeare was in fact already married would certainly have gotten in the way of that!
This is one of my favorite Shakespeare-themed movies. Do you have a favorite?