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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'Shakespeare in Love': A High-Spirited Reimagining of the Young Playwright's Discovery of Love and Inspiration

Movie poster for Shakespeare in Love

Shakespeare in Love (1996) is a high-spirited romantic comedy starring Joseph Fiennes as the renowned Elizabethan-era playwright and poet. Set in London in 1593, the film blends historical fiction with theatricality to depict the burgeoning romance between Shakespeare and Viola de Lesseps (Gwyneth Paltrow), a passionate admirer of his work.

Working as a playwright for theatre owner Philip Henslowe (Geoffrey Rush), Shakespeare struggles with writer's block while laboring over early drafts of "Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate's Daughter". After de Lesseps disguises herself as a man in order to audition for his play, Shakespeare is bewitched by the young maiden and pursues her romantically—despite her engagement to local aristocrat Lord Wessex (Colin Firth). The story follows their blossoming affair, which sets off a chain of events while inspiring Shakespeare to deliver the reimagined "Romeo and Juliet" to the stage.

Directed by English stage and film director John Madden (Proof, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), Shakespeare in Love is a whimsical retelling of the inspiration behind one of literature's greatest love stories. Fiennes charmingly portrays the iconic playwright, capturing Shakespeare's brilliance and vulnerability, while Paltrow embodies the spirit of a woman who defies societal norms to pursue her passion for theatre and her genuine devotion to Shakespeare.


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