Is there anyone out there who reads a blog like this one and who hasn’t seen Shakespeare in Love? Well I know you haven’t seen it in shiny new high definition Blu-ray, because it just came out this week :).
In case you haven’t, let me recap a bit. Joseph Fiennes (yes, Coriolanus’ brother) plays a Shakespeare we never really think about — a struggling playwright with a serious case of writer’s block. Worse, all he’s doing is banging out whatever he can sell for some quick coin. He has no grand plan, he’s just scraping out a living in the shadow of men like Christopher Marlowe. The play he’s working on right now? “Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter” which of course becomes Romeo and Juliet.
Enter Viola, played by Gwyneth Paltrow, who for a change is madly passionately in love with Shakespeare’s work rather than Marlowe’s. So much so, in fact, that she dresses up like a man for a chance to play a role on his stage. See what they did there? A movie about Shakespeare that has a girl dressing like a boy? A girl named Viola? You have to love it already. 😉
Shakespeare develops a strong bond with this character of hers (who goes by Thomas Kent), and it’s only a matter of time before Shakespeare meets and falls in love with Viola as well (breaking from the Orsino parallel), putting her in that odd…well…Viola-like state of being in love with the man she works for, who happens to think that she’s a boy.
How will it all end? It’s a mystery! 🙂
The movie is just beautiful on all fronts. The costumes are beautiful, the scenary is beautiful (both even more so in high def like this). The script is beautiful (if the name Tom Stoppard doesn’t mean anything to you, it should!), the pacing is beautiful. There’s an amazing sequence where Shakespeare and Viola are going over lines in bed together, intermixed with Viola as Thomas Kent on stage delivering the lines in public. Later, when the play begins, we keep cutting back to several interest parties who are racing to put a stop to it. What will happen? Will the show go on? You’ll find yourself gasping every time the Globe audience gasps.
Of course, like all these movies I have my standard complaint – I don’t care about the not-Shakespeare parts. There’s a whole story about how Viola has been betrothed to a random nobleman weasel whose name I don’t even remember, and other than as an obstacle I just don’t care anything about him. When Shakespeare’s not on screen and there’s nobody doing Shakespeare lines? I might as well hit fast forward for how much I’m paying attention.
There’s some special features on the disc, although I’m unsure if they are new for Blu-ray or were on the original DVD release. I watched “deleted scenes” (not a blooper reel, just scenes that did not make it in) and listened to the audio commentary track from “the whole gang”. I’m not used to doing that, that was weird. I kept thinking “Stop stepping on the lines!” 🙂
In the end, though, I was serious when I said I expect that most of my audience has seen this movie. The question is whether you want to add the Blu-ray edition to your collection. Right now Amazon looks like they have it for about eight bucks, so why wouldn’t you?