“A tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing.” So says Macbeth on life. So who is the idiot? Robert Emmerich the director, Shakespeare played by Rafe Spall or me for going to see this nonsense?
Well Emmerich would have you believe it’s Shakespeare in his new film exploring if he really was the master wordsmith we all take him for. We have Rhys Ifans playing the Earl of Oxford a nobleman in love with Queen Elizabeth I who feels the way to stop Robert Cecil bending the Queen’s ear to appoint King James I is by staging thinly veiled political plays to incite the masses calling for the Earl of Essex to be anointed in his stead. There is however a small problem, Earls are not permitted to write plays but luckily there is a stupid young actor by the name of William who is more than willing to pretend he penned the Earl’s play.
Far more problems exist however with the film. The story is ridiculous, certainly there is smoke to be made from the fact that Shakespeare may have not written all his plays but the way in which it is laid out is nonsense. Anyone who saw Incendies earlier this year may see similarities between the two films and when a major fact is revealed I really couldn’t have cared less. Rafe Spall has come quite the way from saying “you’ve got red on you” to playing the bard of Avon but his “e by gum” accent and portrayal of him is just impossible to relate to and what type of accent is Sebastian Armesto doing as Ben Jonson? How he kept a straight face is beyond me. This is the real problem with the film, it’s impossible to leave everything we know about William and the era at the door and go along for the ride. Independence Day, a previous outing of Emmerich, seems much more believable.
Now Tom Waits tells us that the truth is overrated but if you are going to spin me a yarn at least make it interesting and enticing instead of a ram shackle vision of the Tudors in love that even Richard Curtis wouldn’t stick his name to.