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Heather's DVD Review: Anonymous

Updated on January 10, 2020
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Heather has a Bachelor's Degree in English from Moravian College and has been freelance writing for more than 14 years.

Anonymous Movie Poster
Anonymous Movie Poster
Richardson and Jamie Campbell Bower flirt the night away in "Anonymous."
Richardson and Jamie Campbell Bower flirt the night away in "Anonymous."
Redgrave and Ifans remember better days in "Anonymous."
Redgrave and Ifans remember better days in "Anonymous."
Ifans makes a move in "Anonymous."
Ifans makes a move in "Anonymous."
Redgrave thinks of the past in "Anonymous."
Redgrave thinks of the past in "Anonymous."

Is it possible to play with history and not cause an uproar with viewers? That's the premise behind the new movie Anonymous, now on DVD, which had some disappointing results.

Anonymous followed the Earl of Oxford (Rhys Ifans) who had a high ranking position in England during the tail end of Queen Elizabeth I's (Vanessa Redgrave) reign. It turned out that the Earl had a gift for words, but his position prevented him from openly declaring his writing abilities. He had to allow theatre actor William Shakespeare (Rafe Spall) to take credit for his work and had to pay him under the table. The Earl also had time to reflex on his younger days as a carefree young man (Jamie Campbell Bower) who had a passion for writing and an attraction to a much younger Queen (Joely Richardson) that led to a brief affair. This fated relationship impacted the rest of the Earl's life and how he treated his family. He plunged into his playwriting and even used it to help make a political manuever. Can his writing help change a government or backfire big time?

In terms of the plot, Anonymous had an intriguing premise that started with promise, but folded due to a lack of execution. The story's pacing was sluggish and bounced around too much from the past to the present without any clear explanation. If there wasn't as many flashbacks, the movie could've focused more on the present day stories than ones that have already come to past. Anonymous also suffered from one too many subplots which also didn't help matters much. The politicial overthrow subplot with The Earl's illegitimate son should've been left on the cutting room floor instead of front and center. Another one that could've been left out was the twist in the Earl/Queen's relationship that cast a horrible pall on the rest of the movie. The casting of Redgrave and Richardson as Queen Elizabeth I was perfection. Both actresses gave their portrayal of the Queen in different stages of her life. Richardson made her version a hint of youthful innocence that had a naughty streak as she pursued the fairly younger Earl. Redgrave made her version a maturer ruler who longed for her younger more carefree days. The movie's biggest casualty was casting Ifans as the leading man when he would've been better served as the villain and not the hero. Ifans tried his best to carry the film, but he wasn't the right actor for the job in the end.

Verdict: A risky story that failed in its overall execution.

DVD Score: 1 out of 5 stars

Movie Rating: PG-13

Score Chart
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)


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