Skip to main content

Film Reviews Kenneth Branagh’s Shakespeare-not-in-love drama All Is True would not exactly make the Bard proud

Judi Dench as Anne Hathaway, (third from right) Kenneth Branagh (third from left) as William Shakespeare.

Sony Pictures Classics /Mongrel Media

  • All Is True
  • Directed by: Kenneth Branagh
  • Written by: Ben Elton
  • Starring: Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench and Ian McKellen
  • Classification: PG
  • 101 minutes

rating

For the film, Branagh takes a stab at filling in the blanks of Shakespeare’s retirement, about which there is little officially known.

Rob Youngson/Sony Pictures Classics /Mongrel Media

I don’t blame Kenneth Branagh for the disappointment that is All Is True. If I’d spent a good chunk of my career adapting six Shakespeare plays to critical acclaim, I, too, would think I’d wield a firm insight on the man’s psyche. I might even possess the necessary hubris to believe that I, and only I, should step into the Bard’s latter-day boots and produce a speculative-fiction film about the man’s final years.

New movies in theatres and on Netflix and VOD, from the nightmare fuel of Aladdin to four-star feminist comedy Booksmart

Unfortunately, no amount of self-confidence can sustain All Is True, Branagh’s stab at filling in the blanks of Shakespeare’s retirement, about which there is little officially known. Branagh and screenwriter Ben Elton take a few good guesses – mostly revolving around Shakespeare’s grief over the death of his young son, Hamnet, and his troubled relationship with his older wife Anne Hathaway (Judi Dench) – but the drama they concoct is so obvious and tedious that the man himself would never, ever touch it. And for a playwright lionized for his dialogue, the language here is borderline insulting, filthy with obvious exposition (“William, hello! It is I, your distant cousin who is unhappy!” is not an actual line, but close).

Story continues below advertisement

Branagh himself also looks lost in the role of his professional idol, though perhaps that can be attributed to the ghastly prosthetic chin he’s strapped onto himself for the role, a prop that hides the entire lower half of his face and thus renders his performance half-invisible. Love’s labour’s lost, indeed.

All Is True opens May 24 in Toronto and Vancouver, and June 7 in Montreal

Live your best. We have a daily Life & Arts newsletter, providing you with our latest stories on health, travel, food and culture. Sign up today.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter