Dire, Dumb. . . and unfailingly. . . Dumber
from North of Hollywood
, 04 Feb 2013
Aside from those with a (naturally) vested interest in Stratford-upon-Avon's £multi-billion tourism industry, as well as what few Americans are left that actually believe in the stories of Merrie Olde England, there are nowadays comparatively few who accept, for a moment, that the greatest body of literary work in the English langiuage was authored by an illiterate obscure Warwickshire wool merchant who never kept a journal (always assuming, he could actually write one), is highly unlikely to have travelled as a free spirit through the courts and kingdoms of Europe, and who, on his death, left a Last Will & Testament that makes no mention -- at all -- of his published work or the value thereof (which even by that time, was considerable.) William Shakespeare? C'mon. It's all a. . . Fraud. A necessary fraud though, given the actual authorship of the plays and the poems, of the provenance of writing so literate, so accomplished, so considered of narrative and structure. For the true author -- and at least, 'Anonymous' manages to get that right -- was alive in times of intrigue and vendettas and the highest of high Court conspiracies (of which, it's increasingly looking like, his very birth was one such.) All of this is not so much touched upon as twisted, manipulated, and unfathomably then lost in this hapless mish-mash of fiction, history-as-it-never-was, and some of the worst cinematography there's yet been: one grows truly weary of this idiotic vogue for filming everything Tudor-ish in hues of brown. Hey, guys: the sun did shine back then. The colors of the spectrum were indeed all in existence. Not helped in any way at all by Derek Jacobi's prefaratory appearance -- he did exactly the same thing, though thankfully, to greater effect, in the outstanding TV documentary-investigation into the 'real' Shakespeare, of which this rubboish is but a pale, pale imitator -- 'Anonymous' might've been saved by a truly regal, and excellent performance, from Rhys Ifans -- a performance that, with uncanny felicity, continually reminds one of the all-time greats of American stage and screen: the late Jason Robards Jnr. But Ifans' performance isn't enough to rescue this rambling, confusing, conceited mess: two minutes of Rafe Spall's clowning Shakespeare is enough to sink 'Anonyous' beneath the waves (of hysteria.) That it seems never to have occurred to writer and producer and director of this gibberish that, whatever Shakespeare may have looked or sounded like, he definitely could never have resembled Spall's character otherwise his head would've been cut off before the authorship fraud had even begun, is as inexplicable as a plot which seems to have culled some bits of history from Wikipedia and then lost the will, or the Will, to actually string 'em together with any kind of coherence or credibility. The story of England -- as it was, as it happened -- is very much the story of the Great Shakespeare Fraud. Nowadays, it's also the story of vast fortunes, vast egos, and a global tourism industry founded on the kind of lie the true author of the works of wool tradrer Shakespeare would appreciate with a chuckle. No chuckling for any audience having to suffer through this though. 'Anonymous' is the title, and anonymous it deserves to remain.
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