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A friend whose taste I usually don’t trust raved to me about this movie a couple of years ago. Eventually, something about the story line and how enthusiastic my friend was in his description finally got to me and I put Anonymous at the top of my Netflix list.
I am very grateful to my friend’s insistence because this is one of the best movies I have ever seen. I was stunned to find out that it only received one Oscar nomination, and no win, though it did receive several other nominations and awards.
The story, which is set against the backdrop of Queen Elizabeth I reign and succession, develops from the theory that the true author of all those world famous plays and writings was not, in fact, William Shakespeare, but the much better educated and traveled Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford.
It was not until I watched this movie and the extras included on the DVD that I realized that there are actually two very definite schools of thought around this: one supporting the standardly accepted Shakespeare side, and the other just as strongly supporting the De Vere side.
I watched the movie without looking at the cast list. I instantly recognized the beautiful and brilliant Vanessa Redgrave as old Elizabeth I, and her daughter Joely Richardson as young Elizabeth I. Others in the cast include David Thewlis as William Cecil, Edward Hogg as Robert Cecil, Rafe Spall as Shakespeare and Jamie Campbell Bower as a young Earl of Oxford.
But the one that left me speechless was Rhys Ifans, who superbly plays Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford, as an adult and old man.
Don’t you just love when actors are so good that they disappear into the character they are playing to the point of becoming unrecognizable? Rhys Ifans is definitely one of those, and he should have been awarded an Oscar for this part. When I checked him out on IMDB to see what else he had done, I was flabbergasted to find out that – among others – he played Hugh Grant’s goofy friend and roommate in Notting Hill. You know the one who greets the paparazzi wearing just some skimpy briefs (“chicks love grey!”), eats mayonnaise like yogurt and, when he runs out of clean clothes, wears his friend’s scuba diving outfit, prescription goggles included? Yep, that one!
I cannot say enough good things about this movie: the story will capture you and hold you to the end, and you will want to watch it over and over to make sure you haven’t missed any details; the acting is brilliant all around; the costumes, make up and cinematography are outstanding. You can take a peek at a preview here, but you should really rent it and watch it, then watch the extras as well. And if it is no longer on Netflix, you can always find it on Amazon. And here is another video about this story you might want to watch: click on this page and then click on “watch trailer”. You will have to put up with a short commercial first, unfortunately, but then the video will start.
Afterwards, I will be curious to know: which side are you on? Shakespeare or De Vere?
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