Wednesday, December 30, 1998

Shakespeare in Love

Posted By on Wed, Dec 30, 1998 at 12:00 AM

Amid the heyday of Elizabethan entertainment, two rival theaters: the Curtain and the Rose compete for Shakespeare’s newly scripted work. ’Tis rare in one so young to find such talent!

What if the muse bids him adieu and runs away? What if sweet love’s regrets are out of stock? What if — to put it plainly, as we haven’t yet — what if Shakespeare himself has writer’s block while toiling o’er Romeo and Juliet? "Thou art the scholar, speak to it!" "What relish is in this? How runs the stream? Or we are mad or else this is a dream."

But let’s suppose that, humbled by the stubborn page, Will Shakespeare turns to life for inspiration. In love with love itself he sees the lady ... Viola? But she’s spoken for. The air, the sun, the moon — his thoughts are breaking — a tragedy is in the making, as crimes and misdemeanors of the heart join star-crossed lovers.

They see, they want, they have, they want again. The picture moves between the play and Shakespeare’s sorrow. They have this night, but come tomorrow there will be nothing to this violent affection but Will’s art, as tragic lovers meet only to part, forever.

Oh, come! Make haste! The play’s the thing! It’s fresh and ravenous and wondersome and bold! Directed by John Madden (Mrs. Brown), this twice-told tale exquisitely retold presents some players of renown. There’s Emma’s Gwyneth Paltrow as Viola, Joseph Fiennes (Ralph’s brother) as Will Shakespeare, Dame Judi Dench as Queen Elizabeth I, Ben Affleck, Geoffrey Rush of Shine, Tom Wilkinson of The Full Monty and Colin Firth, seen in The English Patient.

Fantastic costumes lavishly displayed — a rhapsody of wealth and color — do not distract us from the crafty script. The writers — Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard — bring to the screen unprecedented glibness. Known for his Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, The Russia House, Empire of the Sun, Brazil, Tom Stoppard stands — equaled by none — unpaired in wit, unmatched in skill.

So when the lovely tale is spent
we might admit to our distress:
We hoped the film would never end,
we wished for endless happiness.

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