Written by Jeffrey Hatcher, Directed by Richard Eyre
Screening at FACT from 3rd September 2004
It is just six years since Shakespeare In Love graced cinema
screens and picked up Best Picture along with six other Oscars, yet Richard
Eyre has decided the world needs another picture about gender-bending
Shakesperean performers struggling to satisfy the whims of the English
crown. In a bizarre move, he also seems to have decided that this new
film shouldn't have any of the subtlety, charm or humour of its 1998 counterpart.
The problem is not the casting. Billy Crudup is decent as Ned Kynaston
- London’s leading portrayer of women. Claire Danes is passable
as Maria - the young actual female who is forbidden to take the stage
due to a legal hangover from Cromwell’s puritanical reign. There
is some real talent in the supporting roles too: Rupert Everett makes
a dashing if bumbling Charles II, Richard Griffiths is amusing as a lecherous
knight of the realm, and Tom Wilkinson is excellent as a theatre director.
The main problem is that there are vast swathes of this film nothing actually
happens. Somewhere around the middle, I began deciding what I was going
to have for lunch (a pecan & walnut bar and a packet of ready salted
crisps), desperately trying to pass the time before the agonizingly predictable
A fine cast was wasted on this pointless exercise, so if for some reason
you have a particular hankering for gender-bending Shakesperean performers
struggling to satisfy the whims of the English crown then I strongly suggest
you rent Shakespeare In Love.