Anonymous tells a ‘what if?’ story about Shakespeare. Apparently he didn’t write his plays. They were authored by the Earl of Oxford (Rhys Ifans), and Shakespeare (Rafe Spall) was actually a stupid promiscuous and gullible idiot who was paid to put his name to them. The plays and poems were then all proof-read and edited by Sophie Kinsella, who arrived in Elizabethan London via a time-machine made out of winegums. Once the plays were completed, they were staged underwater in the Thames while the very damp audience members were served crepes made by an inordinately pissed Nigella Lawson.
Ok, I think I may have gone a bit over-the-top in my description of the plot, but the story really is ludicrous. It completely blows apart accepted understandings of British history, and portrays Queen Elizabeth I (Vanessa Redgrave) as a sex-loving incestuous madwoman.
Some may take offence to its shameless lack of respect towards fact, but I loved it. Roland Emerich, famous for his disaster movies such as The Day After Tomorrow and 2012, turns out to be a superb director of period drama. Everything is beautifully put together, and he brings out some great performances in the wonderful cast.
The plot may be utter nonsense, but it’s supremely enjoyable nonsense, and frequently gorgeous to behold. I’d now love to see Emmerich take on one of Shakespeare’s plays. Or perhaps a Dickens novel, or a Jane Austen (providing he remains faithful). His approach to directing drama is exquisite.
Anonymous (2011), directed by Roland Emmerich, is released on blu-ray disc and DVD in the UK by Sony Pictures, Certificate 12.