Starring: Rhys Ifans, Vanessa Redgrave, David Thewlis, Rafe Spall, Joely Richardson, Jamie Campbell Bower
Director: Roland Emmerich
Rating: 3/5

We are use to seeing Roland Emmerich tackle the big budget blockbusters such as Independence Day and 2012 so it did come as a bit of a surprise when he announced that his new movie was going to be about Shakespeare.

But this is not a tradition Shakespeare movie that basks in the glory of the Bard, quite the opposite, as Emmerich explore a long held rumour that the playwrite was a fraud.

Set in the political snake-pit of Elizabethan England, "Anonymous" speculates on an issue that has for centuries intrigued academics and brilliant minds such as Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, and Sigmund Freud, namely: who actually created the body of work credited to William Shakespeare?

Experts have debated, books have been written, and scholars have devoted their lives to protecting or debunking theories surrounding the authorship of the most renowned works in English literature.

"Anonymous" poses one possible answer, focusing on a time when scandalous political intrigue, illicit romances in the Royal Court, and the schemes of greedy nobles lusting for the power of the throne were brought to light in the most unlikely of places: the London stage.

As you may imagine are in uproar at the very idea that William Shakespeare didn't pen the plays that he is so famous for - those who are a little more open minded however may find this movie rather intriguing.

Of course a story like this has to be taken with a pinch of salt but it a good story none the less as it pulls in the audience and raises plenty of questions.

Emmerich has pulled together a brilliant cast with Rhys Ifans at the forefront as the Earl of Oxford who can not publish his plays under his own name.

There are also great turns from Vanessa Redgrave as an aged Queen Elizabeth while Rafe Spall is also great as Shakespeare who, quite amusingly, is portrayed as a bit of an uneducated baffoon.

The real problem with this movie is the many stories that there are going on in it; Oxford the playwright, Shakespeare the fraud, a jealous Ben Jonson not to mention the royal angle of Elizabeth giving birth to several secret children, incest, lost children, rebellion - the list just goes on.

So, as you may imagine, the plot does get a little complicated as it jumps back and forth between two different times - and this really does spoil the film; a far simpler storyline perhaps would have had more of an impact.

Director Roland Emmerich has been noted for special effects in his movie and Anonymous is no different as Elizabethan London looks simply beautiful.

This is an interesting costume drama that is a new take on a story that we all thought we knew well.

I imagine that it may hack off a few more people than it wins over but you have to admire Emmerich for his courage to tell this tale.

However the jumbled and complicated storyline does prevent the movie from having the controversial punch that it may have been looking for.

Anonymous is out now

FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw

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