Shakespeare in Love - Movie Synopsis & Plot
SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE is a romantic comedy for the 1990s set in the 1590s. It imaginatively unfolds the witty, sexy and timeless tale behind the creation of the greatest love story ever told.
It is the summer of 1593, and the rising young star of London's theater scene, Will Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes), faces a scourge like no other: a paralyzing bout of writer's block. While the great Elizabethan age of entertainment unfolds around him, Will is without inspiration or material. No matter how he tries, and despite pressure from financiers and theater owners, he just can't seem to work up any enthusiasm for his latest play, "Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate's Daughter."
What Will needs is a muse - and in an extraordinary moment in which life imitates art, he finds and falls for a woman who draws him into his own dramatic adventure of star-crossed love.
It all begins when Lady Viola (Gwyneth Paltrow), desperate to become an actor at a time when women were forbidden from such depravity, disguises herself as a man to audition for Will's play.' But the guise slips away as their passion ignites. Now Will's quill again begins to flow, this time turning love into words, as Viola becomes his real-life Juliet and Romeo finds his reason to exist.
Yet all is not well in Will's world. For even as the parchment begins to pile up, he is plagued by real-life twists of fate - including the unavoidable reality that Lady Viola must marry the insufferable Lord Wessex (Colin Firth) at the command of Queen Elizabeth (Judi Dench).
In a whirl of mistaken identities, mixed-up messages and misbegotten desires - between bawdy brawls, duels with jealous husbands and dangerous kisses-Will Shakespeare searches for a resolution not only to his play but to his own undying passion.
1590's London - amidst the great heyday of Elizabethan entertainment, two rival theaters, The Curtain owned by Richard Burbage and The Rose owned by Philip Henslowe, competed passionately for the same audience to fill their playhouses. Under pressure to satisfy the overwhelming demand for new works, a rising young writer by the name of Will Shakespeare penned his love inspired play "Romeo and Juliet." This twisting, turning, fiery romance both on stage and off will break the hearts and inspire the souls of lovers around the world for centuries to come.
But how, in a time of plagues and monarchs, did this often comical, upstart, struggling scribe come to express such timeless passion in such perfectly life-like story and words?
Could it have been that Shakespeare himself was madly in love?
Running away with this imaginative concept, screenwriters Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard have brought forth a delightfully romantic comedy about how one lone writer navigated his own heart's outrageous choice to generate the heights of romance.
Going beyond Shakespeare's notions of love and into his love-life, SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE brings to life an Elizabethan world not unlike our own. Here is a world in which commercialism is threatening creativity, in which heads of state get involved in entertainment, in which bedroom romps affect what gets produced, in which egos rage out of control, in which artistic rivalries and feuds abound, in which children are titillated by violence and women never get any roles - and here, too, is a world in which love triumphs over all this and more.
Refreshingly contemporary, SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE is ultimately the tale of a man and woman trying to make love work in the 90s-the 1590s.
As director John Madden summarizes: "This is a story with humor, romance, sexiness and intelligence. The script takes perhaps the greatest iconic figure imaginable and deals with him in both an incredibly mischievous and yet truly respectful way. It is a tale at once playful, irreverent, modem and deeply romantic."
Read our Shakespeare in Love movie review »