Movie Review: Jane Eyre (2011)

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Plot: A mousy governess who softens the heart of her employer soon discovers that he’s hiding a terrible secret

I haven’t seen a worse plot description in my life on IMDb. “A mousy governess who softens the heart of her employer soon discovers that he’s hiding a terrible secret” – really? That is all they have to say about one of classical literature’s finest novels? Okay then. My review of the novel Jane Eyre should have alerted you already that I’d been lit up with fervor for this story, and I obsessively searched for a copy of the movie to see if it would hold up with my hopes. In fairness, the movie is now seven years old, so procuring a copy was no easy task. I eventually ordered one online and had to wait two whole weeks for delivery.

The 2011 version of Jane Eyre is fantastic, and very much what I wanted the movie to be. Mia Wasikowska is a fantastic Jane Eyre – she nails the passion of Jane so well. At first glance, Jane appears to be a mousy, plain girl who was lucky to receive an education. The viewer is naturally privy to more information – she was mishandled by her only relatives and her school was a strict and harsh environment. Yet Jane has an amazing capacity to care, noted when she takes care of her charge in Mr. Rochester’s home. Adele (Romy Settbon) is a French oddity in the prudish British countryside, and while the movie briefly references that she might be Mr. Rochester’s illegitimate child, the book illustrates better the responsibility Mr. Rochester unwillingly feels for her.

Michael Fassbender might be a bit too handsome for Mr. Rochester – in the book he is described as distinctly un-handsome (i.e. ugly) – but for intensity he is a fantastic choice for Mr. Rochester. The levels of the man – his harshness and anger towards the world and the façade he can give his more elite guests make him a really intriguing man. I would have liked it had they included his scene as the beggar woman, because it adds another level to his character – a shrewdness to not be deceived.

Judi Dench gives an – unsurprisingly – good performance as Mrs. Fairfax – her nervousness in keeping her master happy and the protectiveness she feels towards the inhabitants of the manor.

Jamie Bell is very convincing as St. John Rivers, and he makes the character more likeable than I found him in the book. St. John Rivers remains a really interesting character to consider, because he is on first glance the male replica of Jane – stern, middle class, quite plain, but further inspection reveals he has nothing of Jane’s passion and determination.

Jane Eyre is as dreary as its literary counterpart – incessant fog and rain makes the watcher feel as closed in as Jane must feel. I’ll definitely re-watch – it’s really good and made me miss the novel again. Again, I felt the movie could have included at least Mr. Rochester reclaiming sight in his one eye – the movie reunites the characters but with very little hope due to his poor condition.

Jane Eyre remains one of my favorite classical literatures. It is feminism at its finest origin – Jane’s determination to be an equal to Mr. Rochester. I have to delve deeper into this world – there is so much more to discover!

Rating: 8.5/10

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Read, Watched, Loved: May 2017

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Hey everybody! This post is going up super late this month – I was happily scheduling away on here and didn’t notice that I still hadn’t put this guy up. So as usual, here’s my monthly rundown (but for May). Let me know what you’ve seen and haven’t seen, and just generally how you are 🙂

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Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 (2017) I don’t think anyone was able to hate this film. It was buckets of fun, and I really have such a soft spot for Baby Groot (who doesn’t?). It is similar to the first film but bigger and more of the formula that worked. The plot wasn’t as solid as the first, but I was able to have a fantastic time regardless of that.

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Pride and Prejudice (2005)I liked this movie so much that when I wanted to initially write a quick blurb for here I ended up writing out the review. It is a wonderful film. I am now convinced I need a Mr. Darcy. He’s difficult and worth it. The adaption is fantastic and the chemistry between the leads is amazing.

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Sweet home Alabama (2002) – I watched this as a young person – maybe at around 21 years or so, and really enjoyed it. I have such love for Reese Witherspoon, she truly is a beautiful and talented woman. Her character has the terrible task of choosing between Josh Lucas and Patrick Dempsey, and this movie has humor and heart to it.

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Jackie Brown (1997) I watched this for Tom and Mark’s Decades Blogathon.It is one of the few Tarantino films I hadn’t seen as yet, and found it a great pleasure to watch.

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The Host (2013) – I just had to watch this film again to compare source material to it. It is not as unforgivably bad as the internet make it out to be, and I had a rather enjoyable time watching it.

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Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice is a slow read, that is no lie, but I enjoyed it so much. It is a wonderful, wonderful book with many events and excellent character development. It also gave me yet another book hero to attach strongly to.

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Three Fates – Nora Roberts: I reviewed this before and seemed to have a good thing to say about it. Strange, because I don’t remember loving it so much. I am having a really good time rereading it again though, it is truly Nora Roberts and some good and light reading.

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The Host – Stephanie Meyer: I’m not sure whether the I was a masochist or just seeking enjoyment without thinking too much about it, but I decided to pick up The Host again. It is okay and certainly better than Meyer’s previous novels. It raises some moral questions and has interesting theories despite some slow parts.

What did you do this month?

Movie Review: Pride and Prejudice (2005)

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Plot: Sparks fly when spirited Elizabeth Bennet meets single, rich, and proud Mr. Darcy. But Mr. Darcy reluctantly finds himself falling in love with a woman beneath his class. Can each overcome their own pride and prejudice?

Continuing on my slightly unhealthy craze of Pride and Prejudice and all things Elizabeth and Mr. Bennet related, I had to watch this 2005 adaption again. I can’t find a review for it anywhere on my blog, and I know I’ve seen it before – is it possible that I did it pre-blog? I’ll never know!

I had a great time. I remember enjoying it the first time but not really appreciating the ending back then – I think I didn’t get at that stage just how British this story is and how perfect that ending was.

There are a number of changes made, but it was organic– I didn’t feel that it deducted from the story at all. The changes made were done to fit the span of the book into a movie, so a lot of information and pivotal scenes were ignored. As I said it didn’t damage the film much, but the book certainly provides a more comprehensive scope of Darcy’s character and the change Elizabeth was able to inspire in him.

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Matthew MacFadyen is truly a perfect Darcy. He is a wonderful actor, truly being able to convey emotions without saying too much. He is perfectly British and his contained atmosphere and telling outbursts as Mr. Darcy is spot on.

My love/hate relationship with Keira Knightley seems set to continue. The way she has of pulling her mouth frustrates me to no end. But, as I listed here, the fact that she has an annoying mouth does not derive from the fact that she is an accomplished actress. Ms. Bennet is as challenging to a female lead as Mr. Darcy is to a male lead – complex, intelligent characters with the weight of being a beloved classic weighing them down. She manages her role admirably and is a delight as Ms. Bennet, and has sufficient and delightful levels of impertinence that made me love her all the more.

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Rosamund Pike as Jane Bennet was a choice that I was not that all that pleased with, but she did her best. There was a desperation to her impression of Jane that I did not enjoy – Jane is shy and sweet natured and a bit too believing in the best of others, but she isn’t a desperate woman. Jenna Malone as Lydia Bennet was a perfect choice – Lydia is really the worst thing, she is a flirting little girl with no sense or morals or particular care for her family. It takes a strong actress to bring that particular disregard to family and tradition to life, and the callousness with which Lydia does it as well. Donald Sutherland as Mr. Bennet properly emanates that exhaustion Mr.Bennetmust feel from a lifetime with the skittish and irritating Mrs. Bennet (Brenda Blethyn) – who can’t but help being such an annoying person. I wish I could have seen more of Rupert Friend as Mr. Wickham – he was good on screen but not particularly often on it, which is frustrating as Mr. Wickham is quite important to the events that unfold. I wish I liked Simon Woods as Charles Bingley – he was just too ginger for my idea as Bingley. I did like Kelly Reilly as Caroline Bingley – she was as snobbish and backhanded and mean spirited as her character requires.

I felt similarly in the book – a need to rush through and to get to the end to know everything, but the pacing was slow and careful and makes you subsequently pay a lot more attention. The British countryside is beautiful despite the depressing weather, and the director managed to capture it and incorporate it into this very British movie.

The ending of the film is different to the book only in execution, with the phrases altered slightly but still much the same. It is powerful and touching, and the chemistry between Knightley and MacFayden is through the roof at that very moment. I’ve seen the extended version and the normal version, and the extended is a lot more true to what happens in the book.

I enjoyed this adaption so much. It is a great cast, it is well paced and despite missing some key events it still tells what it needs to tell. Watching this soon again is inevitable. An 8.5/10 for me.

 

Happy Women’s Day South-Africa: Top 15 Favorite Kick-Ass female characters on screen

Today is Women’s Day here in South-Africa. Over here we like public holidays quite a bit (although India has TWENTY ONE), so we are all having a day off today – Whoop!

To celebrate, I made a list of strong female characters on screen. I think we can all agree that there are too few well written, complex female characters, but these ladies below are amazing and did their job extremely well in their respective films!

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Fifteen: The Black Widow – Marvel movies

Female superheroes have increased marginally, and I am really happy about that. My only negative comment is that I am confused why female superheroes need to either wear skin tight leather suits or skimpy Wonder Woman outfits while their male counterparts wears aerodynamically pleasing outfits or war clothing. We have a far way to still go in this genre, but at least we can all agree that Natasha Romanoff kicks ass multiple times on screen and is a fully functional member of the squad. I really enjoy this character, and I think Scarlett Johannson has done a great job bringing her to the screen. It annoyed me a bit that her infertility was this massive discussion in one of the movies – the reproductive capability of her male teammates have never been discussed.

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Fourteen: Katniss Everdeen

Katniss as a character has many flaws – she is selfish and can’t choose between two men. While that is certainly a crime, I have never been able to really judge her too harshly for it. Her world is dark and horrible, and she has nothing wonderful. Turning away from the caring of a good man? It seems nearly cruel to expect her to do that.

But despite this obvious flaw, I really thought the character was badass and capable, and honorable to take her younger sister’s place in a situation where she was guaranteed her death.

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Thirteen: Hermione Granger, The Harry Potter series

If this had been a literary list, Hermoine would have been much higher. Film Hermoine is great and Emma Watson did a good job with her, but my opinion remains that the film adaptions didn’t do justice to the sheer magnificence of the novels, on any level. Anyway, this isn’t a Harry Potter discussion, so I will just mention that Hermoine Granger is the reason those two boys stayed alive. She is strong, intelligent, fiercely loyal and brave, and her contribution to the wizarding world and the feminist cause must never be forgotten.

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Twelve: Elle Woods, Legally Blonde

When Legally Blonde dropped in 2001, every single person on this planet was charmed by Reese Witherspoon and the ditzy genius she created. There were tiny dogs, buckets of pink, manicures and textbooks, all in one film. I placed Elle Woods on this list because we too often forget that it is perfectly possible for a woman to love pink, to be girly and to be very determined, intelligent and capable all at one time. Another excellent thing in the film was that sisterhood won out in the end, and Warner Hungtinton the Third was booted on his ass.

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Eleven: Caroline Forbes, The Vampire Diaries

As the only series character to make it on to this post, you must know that I am very much team Caroline. Another pretty blonde girl who shows determination, loyalty and passion for life! In season one, Caroline works on your nerves pretty much incessantly. She’s insecure and whiny, and seems to be shallow and petty. However, the second she becomes a vampire and she realises that she will live an eternity in her own head, she gets a grip in such a remarkable fashion that I became her biggest fan.

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Ten: Eowyn, Lord of The Rings

Perhaps the lady with the most iconic quote on the list, Eowyn, shield maiden of Rohan, is on first impression another lady who waits while her beloved father figure wastes away at the hand of the dastardly Wormtongue and her brother rides to war against orcs. It quickly becomes clear that this is a proud woman who was raised by warriors, and that she is simply tired of being left behind while those she loves die around her. She finds a way on to the battlefield, and if that chilling and rousing speech Theoden gives before his final ride isn’t enough, Eowyn steals everyone’s thunder by killing the leader of the Nazgul. She also gets her super happy ending at the end, which pleased me to no end.

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Nine: The Bride, Kill Bill

Quentin Tarantino is a phenomenal film maker, and the roles he creates for women are legendary. The Bride is one such character, hell bent on revenge and making people pay for what was done with her. Uma Thurman brings this vengeful character to life with scary finesse, and even though this isn’t my favorite Tarantino film, the character itself is impressive as they come.

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Eight: Hit Girl, Kick-Ass

She’s super tiny, she swears like a sailor, she wears a bright purple wig and her father is Nicolas Cage. Who doesn’t love her? I was a major fan of both movies, and it would be amazing if they could make a third. Hit Girl is the best part of this franchise, showing that gender and size is insignificant when it comes to being a bad ass.

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Seven: Rey, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The horror when Disney bought Star Wars was paramount. Everyone was sure it would be a disaster, and no one could even get a moment of sleep due to the inordinate amounts of stress this franchise was causing in their adult lives. LUCKILY, Disney actually ended up doing a great job, and introduced a bunch of new characters that were able to flow nicely with how things had been done in the past. One of the best new additions was Rey, played by Daisy Ridley, a survivor and a strong female character who can do things for herself. I really enjoyed this character – she is a fantastic blend of purity and strength and was wonderful and empowering to watch.

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Six: Rita Vrataski, The Edge of Tomorrow

A nice little situation of role reversal, Emily Blunt was a hardened war veteran who saved Tom Cruise’s ass REPEATEDLY from aliens. I loved the character – she was sassy, strong, smart and the heroine of the day.

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Five: Vesper Lynd, Casino Royale

Did you also just rub your heart because of the pain that shot through it when Vesper was mentioned? It HURTS. Vesper is hands down the best Bond girl that has ever been onscreen. Her sharp brain kept her well equipped to banter with Bond, and her eventual control over Bond ripped out my heart. The fact that Casino Royale is the best Bond film out there certainly helps, but this character in herself is powerful and strong and determined, attributes that were completely left out during the writing process for the other female characters over this incredibly long franchise.

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Four: Dr. Ellie Sattler, Jurassic Park

I mentioned in my review of Jurassic World that it felt awful to realize that Dr. Ellie Sattler, who was in the very original Jurassic Park in NINETEEN NINETY THREE was a better, well written and strong female character than the running-in-heels-Bryce-Dallas-Howard. Dr. Ellie Sattler, played by Laura Dern, is super smart, professional, excels in her field and gets to see Dinosaurs in JP. I have loved and admired this character from my childhood till now, and I am eternally grateful to the writers that they allowed this strong character to see the light.

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Three: M, The Bond Franchise

Dame Judi Dench is literal life goals. She is classy, successful and revered, and a girl can just dream to be her when she grows up. M is Bond’s boss, the only person who can try to control him, and their relationship is amazing and complex. I love the power of M, and Judi Dench is incredible to behold as this woman who puts her country above everything in her life.

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Two: Furiousa, Mad Max

Homegirl Charlize Theron teamed up with Tom Hardy in the return of Mad Max, and what a job she did. Furiousa is powerful and intense, and her survival skills in the mad world she finds herself in is incredible. The film should have been titled Furiousa, as it is about her and how she helped the wives escape from that dreadful man. The entire film is one big celebration of sisterhood and sticking together, and I could only cheer on the women as they battled for their freedom.

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One: Shoshanna Dreyfus, Inglorious Basterds

The final accolade was difficult to award, because all of the ladies on here are amazing. However, I do think that Shoshanna is worthy, and that her role in Inglorious Basterds is incredibly important. I loved her – her courage and determination, her absolute hatred of anything Nazi, and her eventual success at revenge.

Well, there you have it. There are hopefully a million other female characters that can be mentioned by you below, and I look forward to seeing your opinions!

Movie Review: Skyfall (2012)

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Plot: Bond’s loyalty to M is tested when her past comes back to haunt her. Whilst MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.

Rating: 8/10

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It’s going to be really silly to say again that I love Daniel Craig as James Bond, because I do, but I mention it every time. Anyway, the man is so prime you know? The eyes, the attitude, the suits. Skyfall introduces a broken Bond – he’s simply lived too long and seen too much at this point, and it is catching up with him in a bad day. For him a close call with death is in his daily routine, but after being shot by Moneypenny, he allows himself to be presumed dead for a few months to give himself some time to recover, and only returns when there is big drama in England and his loyalty to his country forces him too.

M is as enigmatic as ever, a power clad iron lady that rules the secret service. The relationship between Bond and M is fascinating, alternating between a very twisted mother and son dynamic, a questionable work relationship and a long standing friendship.

The death of M and Bond’s reaction was a really hard blow to stomach – they had a complex and interesting relationship, one of the few that lasted in Bond’s life. I loved M – especially because it is Judi Dench and only an actress of her capability could have shown so effectively that she would always remember her role to put her country first, and her humanity second – the hard choices she had to make with both Silva and Bond clearly highlighted that.

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I really friggin loved Eve Moneypenny. She is so smart and the banter between her and Bond is good for the soul. Naomi Harris was an excellent choice for the role – intelligent, uber British, sassy and pretty.

Then there is the incomparable Ralph Fiennes. I love the man – he has such a diversity to anything he does and he is simply incapable of being in a mediocre role, simply because of his capability to make everything he does exceptional. I loved him as the good voice of reasonable reason – he wasn’t being a tool and underhanded for personal gain, he was simply doing his job and dealing with the fallout of a failed mission.

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Javier Bardem joined Mads Mikkelson as some of the better (excellent) villains of the Craig era of Bond. He was an impressive villain, and gave way to one of the creepiest scenes in the film. The blonde hair is still the worst decision for him ever, but it suited the creepiness of the character. I also really liked the angle that Raoul Silva was an ex CIA operative and the reasons behind his vengeful quest, as well as how eerily calm he was. The method to his villainy incorporated the new modern technology its reach of power.

Ben Whishaw as Q was ridiculously cute. He had this nerdy confidence based on that while Bond would do well in the field, he was the guy making it all work out behind the scenes. He is VERY adorable in that nerdy way, not in a Bond way, but still good. The incorporation of Mallory, Eve Moneypenny and Q seemed nearly seamless in execution, without it being rushed or forced.

Anyway, that is it from me – Skyfall is worth the watch and great entertainment. It is Bond, but not Bond – women have been treated increasingly less as objects in the Craig era, and that is something that can definitely be attributed to Daniel Craig himself, a staunch feminist that has had issues that side with Bond since the start. It shows in Skyfall, where the leading women are Moneypenny and M, and both are equal and perhaps even superior to Bond himself. For that I can simply salute this film!

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Movie Review: Quantum of Solace (2008)

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Plot: James Bond descends into mystery as he tries to stop a mysterious organization from eliminating a country’s most valuable resource. All the while, he still tries to seek revenge over the death of his love.

Rating: 7/10

The worst thing about this film? It is really forgettable. I watched it a bit more than a week ago and I struggled to remember what went down and how I felt about it. However, I enjoyed it, and I am looking forward to finally watching Skyfall soon!

The most important thing in QoS is that James Bond isn’t over Vesper. He’s barely keeping it together, and although he won’t admit how badly she hurt him, he is slowly losing his control. He is more ruthless than he has ever been, and he doesn’t care who gets taken out while he’s doing his job. Daniel Craig – every time I watch a film with Craig in I’m reminded why I firstly really admire him and secondly find him so insanely attractive. He’s so… contained? He is a fantastic actor, he can switch charm on and off as he pleases, and I haven’t seen all the Bond films out there, he seems like one of the best.

I also really love Judi Dench as M. I mean, for reals, who doesn’t? She’s fierce and classy and a wonderful actress. The relationship between Bond and M is so interesting – complete trust most of the time and the acerbic tone of their conversations gets so funny.

The action sequences and directing is very well done, I’m not really a pro on this, but it looked really good.

As for the entire plot, it is good that they took over some of the storyline of Casino Royale, dealing with Bond’s suppressed rage and grief over the woman he loved. The organization behind Vesper is the main tone of the film, and remains shrouded in secrecy throughout. I did feel that some things were confusing and that the writers had no real plan to tell a story and at some points I genuinely wanted to rewind and try and find answers again.

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If I think of the recent Bond villains– Mads Mikkelson and Christoph Waltz, then Mathieu Amalric’s Dominic Greene falls far short of the mark. He wasn’t really imposing and his character didn’t have any drive to him – it made the movie much less great than it could have been.

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As for the Bond girl, Olga Kurylenko, there have probably been many worse than her. Arriving after Vesper was sure to be a complete nightmare – how was the character to compete? Camille was a bit hollow and one dimensional, but she didn’t truly offend my senses.

I enjoyed it, but thinking back now it’s more a 7 than an 8. Casino Royale is pretty much the gold-standard to me in the Craig leg of Bond, and I think QoS suffered as a result coming directly after it. It is also one of the films in the franchise that builds on what happened in previous movies, making the storyline chunkier (in a good way).

Have you seen this? What did you think?

Movie Review: Shakespeare in Love (1998)

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Plot:A young Shakespeare, out of ideas and short of cash, meets his ideal woman and is inspired to write one of his most famous plays.

Rating: 8.5/10

Have you ever just wanted to write a review and start (and end) with “sooooo, I liked it”? Is that the equivalent of writer’s block for the blogging community? I’ll usually start writing it out and hope something comes from the material, something to spark my opinions, but usually I just aimlessly wander through words hoping to hit a mark.

That is where Shakespeare in Love also starts. I just uncomfortably realized that I’ve now compared myself to William Shakespeare, author of the English language. Now that that is out of the bag, I really liked this film. (See, doing it again)

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Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) has writer’s block, and gives a bracelet to Rosalind, a lady with negotiable affections, with the hope that she will become the muse for his next play. Because she’s a lady with negotiable affections, he finds her in the arms of another man, but luckily finds it in him to pen at least a draft of a very wild idea. Through twists and turns he meets Viola (Gwyneth Paltrow), a beautiful girl who is betrothed to Lord Wessex (Colin Firth). Viola falls for Shakespeare and he for her, and they embark on an adventure of romance and intrigue.

This film won the 71st Academy Award for best film in 1998/1999. I checked the other films that went up against it, and while I would have rather awarded the award to Saving Private Ryan (I mean really, there is no comparison here), Shakespeare in Love is a solid film. It takes a significant amount of talent and dedication to make a love story worthy of Academy notice, something this film did very well, winning seven of the eleven awards it was nominated for.

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Gwyneth Paltrow took one of those awards for Best Actress for her role as Viola. Now, Gwyn gets some steady hate and although I’m not always sure why, she’s not my favorite actress. I adored her in here though. She seems so clean and pure and alive, in contrast to the Queen (Judi Dench), and the insufferable Lord Wessex. Her love for Shakespeare is quick and potent, though no one can blame her – I mean just look at Joseph Fiennes’ eyes.

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Now, Joseph Fiennes. A new inappropriate post needs to be up soon, but I won’t litter this review with my appreciative thoughts. Questions though: why isn’t he in more movies? He is a solid actor. Is he related to Ralph Fiennes? I hope so. Is he very beautiful? Yes. I doubt if the real Shakespeare was so beautiful, but he was likely as passionate. Fiennes is a great Shakespeare – passionate, beautiful and intelligent.

The supporting cast does a wonderful job as well, and many British actors and actresses have small parts in here that I enjoyed recognizing their faces. Judi Dench is intimidating as the Queen, and I enjoyed the silly young Ben Affleck (not English) in here – so cute! Imelda Staunton, Jim Carter and Mark Williams are all in mostly small roles, but man, they were lovely to watch.

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Shakespeare in Love is quite clearly a drama/romance. It might not be for everyone – it is heavy on the sexy time, full of quite lame phrases and gestures. I however, am rather squishy at heart and really enjoy a good romantic film. John Madden was an excellent director, and the cast manages to be talented, humorous, quick-witted, sad, heartbreaking and entertaining at once.

And like I said, I really liked it 😀

Have you seen Shakespeare in Love? What did you think of it?