Joseph Fiennes
Gwyneth Paltrow
Geoffrey Rush
Ben Affleck
Colin Firth
Judi Dench
Simon Callow
Tom Wilkinson
Rupert Everett
Imelda Staunton

John Madden

"This is not life, Will. It is a stolen season."
Time: 122 mins.
Rating: PG
Genre: Romance/Drama

Won Academy Awards for Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Picture, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Score and Best Original Screenplay.
I've been looking forward to this film for a long time. There's almost nothing I love more than romantic, period comedies. There's just something about the language and the costumes that make me happier than a little kid at Christmas. I was hoping that SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE would live up to my expectations and was thrilled when it did. I look forward to watching it over and over. The idea behind this film is as old as time – struggling writer needs to finish story, falls in love, creates masterpiece – what's clever about it is the fact that it's about the greatest writer of all time, Shakespeare, and the creation of Romeo & Juliet. Shakespeare was a man after all and it's terrific fun to see him as a hack just trying to make ends meet while on his way to greatness. Like all wonderful movies, this film entertwines drama, romance and comedy, giving the audience a feast for the eyes and the soul.

The film begins with Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) in between lovers and struggling with a horrendous bout of writer's block. Not only has he lost his muse, but he needs to find one fast – his new play must open in 2 weeks or else. That's when he meets Viola (Paltrow), the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. Lucky for him, she's already a huge fan of his work with a desperate desire for him and the stage. So big in fact, she's been masquerading as a boy in order to be in his latest play, Romeo and Ethel, The Pirate's Daughter.

Consumed with passion for each other, they spend night after night making love and day after day rehearsing the play, which is quickly retitled Romeo and Juliet. It's also no longer a comedy, because the play is a mirror of their own situation, one where the star-crossed lovers cannot live happily ever after. Viola is to be married to Lord Wessex, a union blessed by Queen Elizabeth, and a fate even Shakespeare cannot get her out of. They are living stolen hours and take advantage of every second to be together. The play, as you know, is brilliant, the lovers, end up exactly where they must. Things don't always go exactly as planned – the theater is closed, swordfights breakout, the actors forget their lines, their announcer stutters, Viola is outed as a woman – but life is a mystery and eventually all ends well.

SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE is filled with spectacular performances from everyone involved, even Ben Affleck was clever and funny, a side he seems to have misplaced in his recent films. Paltrow is radiant as Viola, a headstrong young woman in love with a man and a life she ultimately cannot have, but does not regret tasting. I have to say I'm becoming more and more impressed with her with every film she makes. Fiennes is a find, both sexy and silly as the world's greatest playwright. It seems brother Ralph does not have all the talent. Fiennes and Paltrow have so much chemistry together it almost breaks your heart to watch them. Everything else about the film is first-rate as well, from the art direction and the screenplay to the costumes every woman would die for. It's always a pleasure to watch a film that is not only funny and romantic, but intelligent as well. SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE is a must see, not just for women, but for anyone who wants to experience first class cinema.