The Shakespeare you didn’t know, ALL IS TRUE
Situated between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day observances is Kenneth Branagh’s ALL IS TRUE, 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, his wife and two daughters, recover from the loss of his son, and come to terms with his legacy as an artist.
Alongside Branagh, the cast includes Dame Judi Dench, Kathryn Wilder, Lydia Wilson and Sam Ellis with Sir Ian McKellen. The film runs 101 minutes, is in English, rated PG-13, in theaters now.
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 (Branagh) returns to Stratford. As he saw his family infrequently during his two decades working in London, his wife Anne (Dench) and daughters Judith (Wilder) and Susanna (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 (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 (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.
Branagh’s film credits as actor/director include MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING and MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS. He directed AS YOU LIKE IT, THOR and CINDERELLA. His film acting credits include WILD WILD WEST, HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS, VALKYRIE, MY WEEK WITH MARILYN, and DUNKIRK.
Branagh has received five Academy Award® nominations in five different categories. In 2013, he received a knighthood for his services to drama and the community in Northern Ireland.
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