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Both Anonymous and forgettable 

Historical drama hardly Shakespearean

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The Day After Tomorrow director Roland Emmerich's Anonymous is a melodramatic exploration into William Shakespeare’s true identity. It opens and closes as a modern play and in between we travel to Shakespeare’s time and then jump chaotically within a 45-year period. The gist of the spiraling plot is simple: the Earl of Oxford (Rhys Ifans) pens the plays ---a taboo hobby for a man of his status---and consigns struggling playwright Ben Jonson (Sebastian Armesto) to stage them; an illiterate actor named William Shakespeare (Rafe Spall) claims the fame. It’s hard to care about the romance, incest and complicated fight for Queen Elizabeth I’s (Vanessa Redgrave with blackened teeth) throne. The popular conspiracy theory (Shakespeare was an anonymous nobleman) could make an interesting film. But, for a movie about words, the script staggers and Emmerich’s direction is far from poetic.


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