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WAS SHAKESPEARE A FRAUD?

At the end of the Elizabethan era, the Earl of Oxford (Rhys Ifans) hires a playwright called Ben Jonson (Sebastian Armesto) to act as his front, hoping to use his own plays as a political weapon. A labor of love for Roland Emmerich that nevertheless turns out much like his previous efforts. Elizabethan London has been impressively recreated in all its glory and filth and the political intrigues are certainly interesting. But what is complex at first becomes drawn out and a bit bland after the first 90 minutes. And we never really do buy this fantasy about Shakespeare as a fraud.

2011-U.S.-Germany. 130 min. Color. Widescreen. Directed by Roland Emmerich. Cast: Rhys Ifans (Edward de Vere), Vanessa Redgrave (Elizabeth I), Joely Richardson (Young Elizabeth), David Thewlis, Xavier Samuel, Sebastian Armesto… Rafe Spall, Derek Jacobi, Mark Rylance.

Trivia: Richardson, who is Redgrave’s daughter, plays Queen Elizabeth in flashbacks.

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