Review: Anonymous (2011)

Anonymous (2011)

Directed by: Roland Emmerich | 130 minutes | drama | Actors: Vanessa Redgrave, Jamie Campbell Bower, Rhys Ifans, David Thewlis, Joely Richardson, Derek Jacobi, Xavier Samuel, Rafe Spall, Edward Hogg, Vicky Krieps, Mark Rylance, Ned Dennehy, Tony Way, Sebastian Armesto, Tom Wlaschiha, Henry Lloyd -Hughes, Julian Bleach, Isaiah Michalski, Amy Kwolek, Paula Schramm, John Keogh, Robert Emms, Alex Hassell, Alexander Yassin, Sebastian Reid, Trystan Gravelle, Mike Maas, Michael S. Ruscheinsky, Luke Thomas Taylor, Patrick Diemling, Anna Altmann Martina Ysker, Antje Thiele, Carsten Berger, Andreas Frakowiak, Dennis Oestreich, Claudia Funke, Ulrike Brandt, Elisabeth Milarch

The fact of ‘Anonymous’ is interesting enough to keep you fascinated for a long time, although the film asks a lot of the viewer at 130 minutes. Whether Shakespeare was a swindler or not, the film has to tell, but Roland Emmerich’s costume drama tells much more than that. Many characters cheat on each other and/or make alliances, over a number of time periods; at times it is almost impossible to follow who we are looking at when.

Still, there are the bright spots that make the film entertaining. John Orloff’s script, for example, is a bit messy, but when pieces by Shakespeare come along, it comes alive. And although we are dealing here with a combination of good actors and actresses (such as David Thewlis and Vanessa Redgrave) and the ‘Twilight’ hijacked youngsters (Jamie Campbell Bower and Xavier Samuel), all the actors also start to play visibly better when they play with clear dealing with text.

The contributing factor during the two hours and ten minutes is Rhys Ifans, an unsung actor who is only allowed to show his class every now and then (‘Greenberg’, ‘Human Nature’). Although he knows his difficult moments – Ifans is clearly not used to a leading role – he is convincing as Earl Earl of Oxford, who plays a major role in the many plots that are being forged around the Royal Court of Elizabethan England.

The film is nice, the pieces in which Shakespeare is played are fine, but ‘Anonymous’ still feels like a somewhat far-fetched conspiracy theory. To really prove that one of the world’s most famous playwrights was an impostor, the film needed a little more intellectual ingenuity. But that’s not what Emmerich is looking for. The director who has always driven the world to destruction with films such as ‘Independence Day’, ‘The World After Tomorrow’ and ‘2012’ wanted to show that he is also capable of something else. And he somewhat is. ‘Anonymous’ offers nothing more and nothing less than an evening of good entertainment. Everything is still standing afterwards.

Comments are closed.