Approx advert and trailer run time: 25 mins
Film run time: 1hr 41m
After decades of mastering Shakespeare’s work and reanimating it for millions, Kenneth Branagh takes his ascent of the great writer one step further by finally playing and directing the man himself.
Rather than recount the playwright and actor’s more familiar and productive years in London, Branagh and screenwriter Ben Elton (of Blackadder fame) focus on his twilight and return to his Stratford home, with his theatre burnt down and his great works behind him. Abandoning writing to manage his estates, Shakespeare strives to reconnect with the family he left behind for theatrical glory, including his stoic, hardened wife Anne (Judi Dench), his bitter, unfulfilled daughter Judith, his faded former muse Henry Wriothesley (Ian McKellen), and the void left by the death of his only son, Hamnet.
Branagh and Elton hardly leave doubt for Shakespeare’s genius and stature as a writer, but strive to pierce his almost impenetrable aura by showing his more ordinary concerns, as a man who must also come to terms with family, society, and age like any other. In approaching him in this way, they succeed in making him even more accessible and sympathetic.
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