Anonymous seems to have crept up on me. I saw a few posters around when it came out in the cinema, but I'd completely forgotten about it until the DVD turned up. But I sure did look forward to watching it.
Anonymous harks back to the times of Shakespeare and the rule of Queen Elizabeth. The movie portrays a conspiracy theory of sorts, that states Shakespeare in fact did not write any of the plays attributed to him. In the midst of Elizabeth's unwillingness to name an heir to the throne, Edward deVere, Earl of Oxford (Rhys Ifans), pens many plays and hands them over to a little known struggling playwright, Ben Jonson, to perform. After one of the first showings sparks an uprising in the audience, Jonson is reluctant to claim authorship himself, leaving the glory free to be taken by William Shakespeare. The plays that de Vere writes are designed to skew the opinion of the public into backing the heir that de Vere wishes to take the throne, but will his plan go as smoothly as he wants?
The premise of Anonymous is quite excellent. Although there may be no proof whatsoever into the theory, it is very nicely integrated with the political turbulence of the time. There are some historical inaccuracies that have been pointed out on Wikipedia and the like, but in the name of entertainment the movie is a very good effort.
The only real problem I had with the movie is that fact that it jumps around a lot. Some of the action takes place in the time of Shakespeare's rising fame, while half shows the earlier life of de Vere, his prodigious talent for writing, and his relationship with Elizabeth. Many characters are introduced and the action often jumps backwards and forwards without warning, so if you're not paying attention it's quite easy to get lost.
Still, the plot is quite well rounded, and supported by some great performances. Ifans is wonderful in his role, though kudos as well to Jamie Campbell Bower, who plays the younger version of de Vere. While the plot may seem a bit awkward at times, the overall story and the well portrayed characters should keep your attention. I certainly enjoyed it.
My rating: 4/5