I think that everyone has a bit of a conspiracy theorist inside of them, and this film certainly delves unabashedly into the theory that William Shakespeare was not the author of his famed plays and sonnets, but that it was actually an Earl who wrote them.
Shakespeare is probably the most famous English playwright in existence. His works spread light on his time in history, as well as contributed immensely to the expansion of the English language. His brilliance, however, is a source of discontent among those who believe that a son of an illiterate man in the time of hierarchies could not possibly possess the wit to create such masterpieces. The Shakespeare (Rafe Spall) in Anonymous plays this part quite well–he is an actor who is portrayed as being a few cards short of a full deck, if you know what I mean.
There are all sorts of things we could say about this. Whether Shakespeare was the author or it was the 17th Earl of Oxford (Rhys Ifans), that is not the purpose of this blog. If you are able to lay aside all preconceptions and watch the film for what it is, I would highly encourage you to see it.
It is exceedingly dark in everything–lighting, art design, and story. The Queen (Vanessa Redgrave and Joely Richardson) is a fascinating character, with a trail of lovers and heirs that amuse her almost as much as her plays. There are plots twists, deaths, and best of all, the performances of Shakespeare’s plays in their natural habitat. The costume design is flawless and deserved more than just a nomination, in my opinion.
Whether or not the film is historically accurate, I could not say. It is exceedingly fascinating and entertaining. It makes you believe in its theory, if only for the time you are viewing it. Its execution, acting, characterization, and realness is all you can ask for in a period piece and I would gladly add it to my ever growing personal library.