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Set in the political snake-pit of Elizabethan England, this film speculates on an issue that has for centuries sparked the interests of academics and brilliant minds such as Mark Twain. Who actually created the body of work credited to William Shakespeare? Experts have debated, books have been written, and scholars have devoted their lives to protecting or debunking theories. To be honest, this topic has never been something that I found very intriguing. Putting aside the story of whether or not Shakespeare wrote his own work, this style of filmmaking has been done far too many times. This movie proves that its a tired effort all by itself. No need for analyzing. From early on, one can tell this is one bland film. I found the characters to be uninteresting and the dialogue to be uninspired. There are even quite a few sequences that feel repetitive. Some of the lines of dialogue feel all too familiar from scenes that occurred a mere twenty minutes before. Anonymous tries so hard to be a historical and well-written flick, but it never gets even close to being that. Now, returning back to the plot. This is supposed to be about Shakespeare not writing his own works, right? Well, the movie doesn't seem to have everything put together. This is one of the main issues I have with the movie. This isn't a small flaw and is a huge problem. The movie itself appears to be confused at times. Anonymous continues to drag for a full two hours and ten minutes. It's one long running time and you feel every minute of it. It's rather dull to where I had difficulty keeping awake during a few scenes.
Fortunately, the acting is much better than the screenplay. All of the actors fit his or her role and are entirely convincing. Every bit of them feels true. The accents and actions feel natural as can be. The most impressive performance from Anonymous is delivered by Vanessa Redgrave. She is Queen Elizabeth I and is not only convincing, but absorbing. During the scenes she stars in, you are guaranteed to have your eyes glued to the screen. She captures the role in a way that not many other actresses could have. Redgrave was a fantastic casting decision. The rest of the cast is believable, although Redgrave is the only truly standout performance to be seen. With such a boring script, these actors are left to carry the movie all by themselves. They have done what they can and are one of the small reasons it got a slightly higher rating than I was going to give the overall motion picture.
The second reason why I boosted the score by half a star is due to the visuals. Anonymous has rightfully been nominated for an Academy Award for the Costume Design. Lisy Christl has developed an insanely realistic world on screen with the costumes. There are quite a few worthy contenders this year, so I'm curious to see who the victor will be. Meanwhile, the color palette of the movie is a dark gray. This doesn't exactly aid me in keeping awake, although the sets are wonderful. Director Roland Emmerich has created some truly crappy movies, but he has placed quite a bit of style into Anonymous. The audio transfer is actually pretty good for a drama. The dialogue is never difficult to hear and the soundstage is immersive. The surround sounds are made active when necessary. There aren't any sound gimmicks involved, this is a truly well-mixed audio track.
Unfortunately, I didn't find too much value in watching this movie. In fact, I felt a little bit angry after my viewing. After allowing the film to sit in my mind for a little while, I realized that isn't as bad as I originally thought. The acting is spot on and the visuals are well-done. However, this doesn't excuse the huge flaws that exist within the screenplay. This is a drama, so the script is what the film heavily relies on. The screenplay is a mess and definitely could have used quite a bit of work. The pacing is extraordinarily slow and is sure to put some audiences to sleep, as it nearly did to me. I'm not too interested in the topic of whether or not William Shakespeare wrote his works or not, but I kept an open mind. Perhaps enthusiasts of Shakespeare will find more worth in this movie. I don't see myself ever checking this one out again. Anonymous isn't a complete waste of time, although it certainly isn't a flick I would recommend.