AM I THE ONLY ONE that feels a bit jaded about the whole "did he or didn't he" debate about whether William Shakespeare wrote the canon attributed to him? It's a chestnut we dust off as frequently as "Did aliens build the pyramids?" But I suppose it makes sense to have bombastic disaster director Roland Emmerich (2012, Independence Day, Godzilla) delve into the Bard conspiracy in Anonymous in much the same way as he delivered Stargate: Sure, it's full of hokum, but it's also got its merits.
Emmerich dives into the what-ifs with relish, positing that the man named Shakespeare was a nearly illiterate stage monkey with neither the brains nor the education to have written such literary works. Instead, Shakespeare (Rafe Spall) took credit for the lifework of Earl of Oxford Edward de Vere (Rhys Ifans), who was unable to lead a seedy life on the boards due to his lofty status at court. By giving his plays to the populist Shakespeare to stage, de Vere had some control of the political decisions of elderly Queen Elizabeth I, a lifelong fan of theater. De Vere knows of her proclivities because he was a ward of Elizabeth's as a child. De Vere also knows this because he later fucks the living hell out of the virgin queen. And looks after her brood of bastard children.
Scholars have their trunk hose in a bunch over this highly improbable theory that takes a sordid, soap-operatic dump on Shakespeare. But really, what you're wondering is if Anonymous is any good—regardless whether it's factual. Don't bother the lovely Multnomah County librarians for corroborating info—this is a silly story with scant facts—but it's still a frothy potboiler with mistaken identities, twisty conspiracy thrills, and Vanessa Redgrave as the dotty, dreamy-eyed queen. Sounds like something Shakespeare would've loved.