Review – Anonymous

‘Anonymous’ asks the question, was William Shakespeare a fraud? The real question is, why isn’t director Roland Emmerich blowing shit up? ‘Anonymous’ is an attempt by Emmerich to try something different as a film maker , but his tale of conspiracy in Elizabethan times is a complicated and melodramatic mess.

Queen Elizabeth I (Vanessa Redgrave) is nearing the end of her reign, and the politics of who should succeed her has everyone with a royal title vying for the crown. The Earl of Oxford (Rhys Ifans) teams up with a local playwright and his friend William Shakespeare (Rafe Spall) to use theatre as a political tool to influence this decision.

‘Anonymous’ is confusing from the beginning and it’s hard to keep track of the large cast of characters and a convoluted plot. To make matters worse, ‘Anonymous’ jumps back and forth through time like Marty McFly joyriding in a DeLorean, and – if you’re not keeping track – you run the risk of getting stuck in the 16th century with a splitting headache and the possibility of contracting the plague.

This type of storytelling doesn’t suit Emmerich, who is famous for his big disaster films, such as ‘Independence Day’ and ‘The Day After Tomorrow’. It’s good to see Emmerich try something different – and full credit to him for trying – it’s just that Elizabethan drama is not one of his strengths.
The cast is quite good, with Redgrave showing some class, but unfortunately a few over-the-top performances let the team down.

The best part of ‘Anonymous’ is the way Shakespearean references are littered throughout the film and you see what may or may not have inspired the famous plays and sonnets.

I’ve never met a hardcore conspiracy theorist who is also a Shakespeare enthusiast, but if they are any out there, ‘Anonymous’ is the film for them.


‘Anonymous’ is now showing in Australian cinemas.

Sony Pictures.

The Popcorn Junkie