All is True Brings Shakespeare’s Last Years to the Screen

All is True Review

We all grow up reading the works of William Shakespeare, and the Bard seems to be more myth than man in many people’s eyes. We don’t know much more than he had a family back in Stratford-upon-Avon while he wrote and produced plays at the Globe in London. But what about the man? And his life after his time in London?

Based on the last three years of his life All is True follows Shakespeare in the winter of his life as he returns home. Fighting with personal demons, his past and dealing with the death of his son that happened while he wasn’t at home. The film covers the scandals his family end up going through when he returns, and ones surrounding both of his daughters.

While slow at parts, the movie does tell a period story of a family caught up in the current happenings of the world around them and the effects it can have on them. It makes not only Shakespeare relatable as an everyday person who struggles with finding his own voice, if his hand isn’t on a quill, and as a parent who really wants the best for their children.

The slower pace of the movie and quiet moments makes it hard for you to even have a snack without disturbing other movie goers. But the movie will keep your attention as it slowly unfolds the last days of Shakespeare. It will be a movie that fans of the Bard will want to watch, just to get a bit of an understanding of the man who shaped so many of our lives.

About All is True –

Kenneth Branagh’s ALL IS TRUE is a portrait of William Shakespeare during the last three years of his life, as he leaves London and returns to his family in Stratford-upon-Avon. The film follows Shakespeare as he strives to bridge the distance between himself and his wife and two daughters, recover from the loss of his son, and come to terms with his legacy as an artist. Branagh and screenwriter Ben Elton start with the known facts about Shakespeare’s life during that time and attempt to fill in the gaps with what Shakespeare seemed to reveal about himself through his own writings.

In 1613, after a devastating fire destroys the Globe Theatre during the first production of Shakespeare’s play “All is True” (“Life of Henry VIII”), a distraught Shakespeare (Kenneth Branagh) returns to Stratford. As he saw his family infrequently during his two decades working in London, his wife Anne (Judi Dench) and daughters Judith (Kathryn Wilder) and Susanna (Lydia Wilson) are surprised, but hardly pleased, to hear he now intends to stay in Stratford. Shakespeare, who is haunted by the death at age 11 of Judith’s twin brother Hamnet (Sam Ellis), attempts to ease his grief by planting a memorial garden for his son.

As the film progresses, the simmering tensions in the family that have been contained during Shakespeare’s absence, gradually surface. Anne, who felt humiliated by her husband’s public display of affection in his sonnets, is not pleased when the man who may have inspired them, and to whom they are extravagantly dedicated, the Earl of Southampton (Ian McKellen), comes to pay a visit. Judith resents what she feels is her father’s strong emotional preference for her dead twin Hamnet over her, and her anger is only magnified by the guilt she feels as the surviving twin.

Shakespeare’s relationship with his elder daughter Susanna is more cordial, but the relationship is upset when she is accused of being unfaithful to her husband, which leads to a very public trial.

As the son of a once prestigious local man who fell into disgrace, Shakespeare is particularly threatened by Susanna’s scandal, as he prizes the elevated social standing in Stratford he has worked so long to achieve. He also has lingering questions about the circumstances surrounding his son’s death and is driven to find answers. (SONY PICTURES CLASSICS)

This film is rated PG-13.

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