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Rated NR · 2011

Roland Emmerich’s handsome, inconsequential “investigation” into the political and theatrical life of Elizabethan England makes a mystery of history. Who really wrote William Shakespeare’s plays and poems? Was it Ben Jonson (Sebastian Armesto)? Kit Marlowe (Trystan Gravelle)? Or an unlikely choice, like the shadowy Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford (Rhys Ifans)? It couldn’t have been Shakes himself, that buffoonish, illiterate actor (Rafe Spall). Does any of this really matter, except as a vehicle for the strutting and fretting of David Thewlis as conniving courtier William Cecil; Edward Hogg as his crouchbacked son, Robert; and the queen herself, a wonderfully hammy Vanessa Redgrave? Best to clam up and watch the bear-and-dog fights and the huge roster of British thesps, also including Joely Richardson as young Liz, Xavier Samuel as the Earl of Southampton, and Sam Reid as the overextended Earl of Essex. Much ado about very little, in the long run, but fun with an XL bag of popcorn. Written by John Orloff. (130 min.)
Director: Roland Emmerich
Writer: John Orloff
Cast: Xavier Samuel, Rhys Ifans, Jamie Campbell Bower, Vanessa Redgrave, David Thewlis, Joely Richardson, Rafe Spall, Derek Jacobi, Tom Wlaschiha and Edward Hogg

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