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Rated PG-13 · 130 minutes · 2011

Historical drama
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
Producer: Roland Emmerich, Larry Franco, Robert Leger, Volker Engel, Marc Weigert and John Orloff
Cast: Rhys Ifans, Vanessa Redgrave, Joely Richardson, David Thewlis, Xavier Samuel, Sebastian Armesto, Rafe Spall, Edward Hogg, Sebastian Reid, Jamie Bower, Derek Jacobi, Trystan Gravelle, Helen Baxendale, Mark Rylance, Paolo De Vita, Robert Emms, Tony Way and Julian Bleach

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