On the boards, he's performed in and/or staged at least 20 productions by the English language's greatest dramatist. All rights reserved. But the crowning scene of “All Is True” comes midway through the film, when William’s patron and muse, Henry Wriothesley (Ian McKellan), stops by for a visit and a fireside chat. Vowing to never write again, he returns to Stratford-upon-Avon where his wife Anne Hathaway (Judi Dench) has been holding down the fort in his absence. PG-13. The pic's highlight, however, is a long fireside chat between Shakespeare and a welcome guest, the Earl of Southampton (Ian McKellen). © 2020 The Hollywood Reporter Director of photography: Zac Nicholson
Shakespeare will never win any awards for his lawn nor will his garden blossom like his prose, but this drudgery gives him something to do. “All Is True” is a rueful movie but finally a joyous one, as sundry loose ends are put right with a Shakespearean combination of tidiness and wishful thinking. Handsomely produced, every frame carefully composed with appropriately autumnal tones, “All Is True” doesn’t traffic in the antic, anachronistic wit of “Upstart Crow,” Elton’s delightful Shakespeare-centric Brit-com. We see Hamnet several times offering his dad the latest poems he has written. The humor here is quieter, interwoven with more contemplative, even elegiac concerns, as William is forced to confront assumptions — about fatherhood, marriage, his own insecurities and ego — that he has spent a lifetime trying to outrun and out-write. Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, Kathryn Wilder, Lydia Wilson, Hadley Fraser, Jack Colgrave Hirst, John Dagleish, Sean Foley With his thick mustache and outrageous Scarlet Pimpernel wig, he throws enough shade to cover three rooms of windows. “It’s yourself.” Rather than grieve with the rest of the family when the boy died, she tartly reminds her husband, “You wrote ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor.’ ”.
Purists may have a field day with “All Is True,” and it does have a tendency to lag, but I found myself thinking about it days after I’d seen it.
Wilson and Wilder are just as convincing as siblings who for years have been competing for their father’s respect and affection, with the idealized image of their dead brother. We spend just as much time with Shakespeare’s women as we do with him. As far as acting battle royales go, this is one for the books. “I'm done with stories,” he confesses. Not to be outdone, McKellen gives the sonnet a completely different, though no less spectacular reading. A serviceable take on the Bard's latter days. 11:55 PM PST 12/20/2018
Later in the film, when he’s updating his will, Shakespeare leaves Anne that second best bed as an in-joke between the two of them. While I eagerly wait for him to breathe life into some dismal Harold Robbins smut, I must settle for his crafty bit of meta-casting in “All Is True.” After taking on several of his plays, Branagh now takes on Shakespeare himself. if you haven't done your homework on the Bard, the film can be … Screenwriter: Ben Elton “All is True” also wants to delve into the societal roles for women in Elizabethan times. The verities he thought would comfort him in his dotage turn out to be illusions of his own self-serving concoction. Adding to the issues is the heavily pronounced age difference between Dench and Branagh; the pregnant Anne Hathaway was 26 when she married the 18-year-old Will Shakespeare, but the unignorable fact is that Dench, at 83, is 26 years older than Branagh. Rated PG-13 Say what you want about his onscreen vices, but Branagh has always been a charitable director and it really shows here. A labor of love, to be sure, but a simple, small-scaled domestic drama with none of the broad appeal of the hugely popular Shakespeare in Love of … Then there is the blatant villainy of radical Puritans, who seem to know only one emotion — mean-spirited anger.
Branagh’s framing of this scene, wherein he is dwarfed in the background between Anne and Lydia, is as powerful as Dench’s acting. Wilder really makes you feel the hurt underneath her moments of lashing out, so much so that Shakespeare becomes a somewhat villainous representation of how little his era valued women. “All Is True” bypasses that cliché trap with its timeframe. I know what you’re thinking: This is going to be one of those biopics where all sorts of ridiculous coincidences will beget well-known details about that person’s life or their art. Without the theater where his greatest works premiered, Shakespeare has lost his way with words. Anne offers her husband her bed, because “a guest deserves the host’s best bed.” Anne will not occupy it with him; instead she’ll take the “second best bed” in the house. As two of the writer's major poems had been dedicated to the earl and rumors persist that his sonnets had been addressed to an elder man, Will at length brings the conversation around to a more personal level, resulting in a tart and telling resolution to what verges on an affair of the heart. “I never let the truth get in the way of a good story,” Shakespeare tells us. While Lydia gets her freak on outside her marriage, Judith seethes at her father as he mopes about lamenting his dead son. We do know, however, that in June of 1613, the Globe Theater burned to the ground in London. As an actor and director, Kenneth Branagh has presented several works of Shakespeare for cinematic consumption, bringing flair, passion, humor and a bit of randy action to plays like Much Ado About Nothing and Henry V. And like his Bard-loving predecessor, Sir Laurence Olivier, Branagh has run the gamut from Hamlet to ham. Long the writer's patron, the elegant visitor cuts the figure of an intelligent dandy, garbed in fancy attire and a long blond wig that instantly reminds of Peter O'Toole's get-up in The Ruling Class. Privacy | Kenneth Branagh plays William Shakespeare contemplating the end of his career in “All Is True,” an intriguing speculative drama about the playwright’s final years. Like Branagh, McKellen is no stranger to the Bard nor is he unfamiliar with dousing his performance with figurative pork products. What’s more, they have little interest in revisiting the death of the Shakespeares’ young son Hamnet, whose loss William is only now beginning to process. Anne seems to be the only one comfortable with her life and her delusions. Production designer: James Merifield Like the superior Emily Dickinson vehicle “Wild Nights With Emily,” it bypasses the worthy immortal regard earned by the writer’s works and lets us see the humanity—and the drama—beneath that surface. Contains mature thematic elements, suggestive material and strong language.
Music: Patrick Doyle Shakespeare suffers the kinds of neuroses that plague every writer, except he’s taken up gardening rather than booze to ease his pain. A strangely formless and insubstantial love-letter to Shakespeare Directed, produced by, and starring Kenneth Branagh, All Is True is a pleasant enough film obviously born from great reverence, but is also clumsily episodic in structure, and relatively free of conflict, focusing instead on A strangely formless and insubstantial love-letter to Shakespeare Directed, produced by, and starring Kenneth …
A hard-working dramatist, Shakespeare is articulate and smart, of course, but not excessively imperious or egotistical, plus he well knows the great value of a strong supporting cast. In 1613, Shakespeare is returning to Stratford to rejoin the family he left behind while he pursued fame and, more pointedly, fortune: He finds his wife, Anne (Judi Dench), and daughters Susannah and Judith (Lydia Wilson, Kathryn Wilder) contentedly pursuing life and domestic affairs without him, having long since acclimated themselves to his absence. More profoundly, the pain felt by the daughters runs parallel with Will's anguished need to know the truth about his son's death. 101 minutes. With just the right amount of caprice and reverence, Branagh and Elton leave viewers with the impression, not that we’ve glimpsed the Great Man among his minions, but that even the foremost genius of the English language and his family were ordinary people. Great as she is, Dame Judi would be a more plausible candidate to play his mother than his wife. Evidently demoralized by the destruction of his theater, the 49-year-old playwright (Branagh) retreated to rejoin his wife and two daughters, of whom he had seen very little for some 20 years. TWITTER
Meanwhile, Shakespeare’s relationship with Hamnet’s twin, Judith is strained because, you guessed it, the wrong kid died. It's fair to say that Kenneth Branagh knows his Shakespeare as well as or better than anyone who's put the bard's work on the screen; he's directed five films based on Shakespeare plays and has acted in as many. | Cookie Settings. This they direct, at a suspicious simmer, toward the popular playwright in their midst but vituperatively at Will's daughter Susanna Hall (Lydia Wilson), who at length is accused of being unfaithful to her husband John (Hadley Fraser). Meanwhile, Will's unmarried younger daughter Judith (Kathryn Wilder) not only can't read but has lived under the lifelong (and likely true) impression that her father would have wished for her to die rather than her twin brother. “It’s not Hamlet you mourn,” Anne scolds, using the boy’s nickname. Judith’s constant snark evokes MTV’s Daria and her rivalry with her sister has more than a bit of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” about it. Distributor: Sony Classics But make no mistake, this is still the same guy who went full-on operatic in the massively entertaining “Dead Again.” Just when it feels like the Bard really doth protest too much about his misery, the film gets a major injection of juicy theatrics courtesy of Sir Ian McKellen. It's also the case that, except for dates, rudimentary family facts and certain professional details, precious little is known about the man William Shakespeare, so who could be more entitled than Branagh to create a speculative drama about the final three years of the writer's life, when he had retired from the theater to rejoin his family in his native Stratford-upon-Avon? Coming from the pen of Ben Elton, writer of Upstart Crow, an ongoing British TV comedy hit about Shakespeare and the creation of some of his most famous plays, as well as of The Young Ones and numerous episodes of the farcically historical Blackadder, the script for All Is True is exceedingly expository, with scene after scene devoted to one subject at a time: Will just wants to do mindless yard work and commune with his lost son; his illiterate wife Anne (Judi Dench) resents his disruptive arrival after so long, and Will declaims that, “I've lived so long in the imaginary world that I've lost sight of what is real.”.
For her part, Anne has lived so long without her husband that it's an inconvenience to suddenly have him around. Kenneth Branagh plays William Shakespeare contemplating the end of his career in “All Is True,” an intriguing speculative drama about the playwright’s final years.
Those themes have to do with the death of a golden child, unresolved guilt and grief, parental self-deception and filial ambivalence — meaning that, in myriad guises and genres, we’ve seen this movie before. Using the known facts as their guardrails, the filmmakers concoct a credible, if not verifiable, narrative that invites as much healthy skepticism as credulity. A labor of love, to be sure, but a simple, small-scaled domestic drama with none of the broad appeal of the hugely popular Shakespeare in Love of 1998, All Is True is a thoroughly respectable Sony Classics pickup that will command the interest mostly of older-skewing art house habituees.
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