All Is True (2018) – reviewed by George

This is a wonderful movie. I wanted to review it right after completing Upstart Crow, and here it is. Now, the big surprise for me was that this film was, like Upstart Crow, written by the incredibly talented Ben Elton, Though this is not a comedy; it’s like the reflections back on a life with both satisfaction and grief, and in that sense is the life we all live.
It begins like this:
In London, June 29, 1613, a performance of Shakespeare’s “Henry the VIII” was given at the Globe Theatre. It was advertised under its alternative title: All Is True. During Act 1, Scene 4 of the performance, a prop cannon misfired, starting a blaze. The Globe burnt entirely to the ground. William Shakespeare never wrote another play.

The film then becomes live with Will’s retirement to Stratford-upon-Avon and his picking up the threads of his relationships with his family. The resentments that have built up around his frequent absences are both somewhat unexpected and very sad. Fact I did not know: Judith and Hamnet were twins. The film has three big stars: Kenneth Branagh as Will, Judi Dench as his wife Anne, and Ian McKellen as the Earl of Southampton. McKellen has a wonderful scene with Branagh, talking about Will’s accomplishments which Will thinks are oversold, while the Earl thinks them quite literally divine. Such scenes are rarely evocative since usually the writing is of regret and years gone, but here the feeling is one of support and love. Oh, it doesn’t start out that way, but just wait.
And Judi Dench moves from resentment to acceptance and even appreciation (a little bit).
Both daughters married and the movie ends as it began with more written information.
William Shakespeare died on the 23rd of April, 1616, in the town where he was born. It was his birthday. Anne died 9 years later. Judith had three sons. All died young. Elizabeth Hall, Susanna’s only child, married twice. She died at 61, the last of Will’s line.

This is an exceptional film, so very different in tone from the Crow scripts that it’s almost startling. I really admired everyone’s work and Recommend the film very highly.
Written by Ben Elton, Directed by Kenneth Branagh.

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