Mixed or average reviews - based on 43 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 55 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: Set in the political snake-pit of Elizabethan England, Anonymous speculates on an issue that has for centuries intrigued academics and brilliant minds ranging from Mark Twain and Charles Dickens to Henry James and Sigmund Freud, namely: who was the author of the plays credited to William Shakespeare? Experts have debated, books have been written, and scholars have devoted their lives to protecting or debunking theories surrounding the authorship of the most renowned works in English literature. Anonymous poses one possible answer, focusing on a time when cloak-and-dagger political intrigue, illicit romances in the Royal Court, and the schemes of greedy nobles hungry for the power of the throne were exposed in the most unlikely of places: the London stage. (Sony Pictures)

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 43
  2. Negative: 7 out of 43
  1. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Oct 26, 2011
    Because of the ingenious screenplay by John Orloff, precise direction by Roland Emmerich and the casting of memorable British actors, you can walk into the theater as a blank slate, follow and enjoy the story, and leave convinced - if of nothing else - that Shakespeare was a figure of compelling interest.
  2. Reviewed by: Lawrence Toppman
    Nov 3, 2011
    Anonymous is fun – if you take the anti-Shakespearean tale as events set in an unreal, alternate universe.
  3. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Oct 27, 2011
    William Shakespeare - whoever he was - I think would probably be at least a little amused by Anonymous. For amusing it is - along with bawdy, brazen, politically outrageous, plausible enough and occasionally graced with something close to Shakespearean cleverness in an absurdist sort of way.
  4. Reviewed by: Mary Pols
    Oct 27, 2011
    Emmerich has turned his attention to the past. He and screenwriter John Orloff have embraced a kitchen sink's worth of 20th-century conspiracy theories about the provenance of Shakespeare's plays, each wilder than the last. Oliver Stone's "JFK" looks reasonable compared to this.
  5. Reviewed by: Amy Biancolli
    Oct 27, 2011
    So if you don't mind, I'll just go back to believing that someone named Shakespeare (whoever he was) wrote Shakespeare's works. And I'll just go back to regarding them with awe.
  6. Reviewed by: Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Oct 26, 2011
    Thumpingly silly yet self-serious period-piece what-if.
  7. Reviewed by: Judith Newmark
    Nov 6, 2011
    The movie inspired theater critic Judith Newmark to write a sonnet in response.

See all 43 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 15
  2. Negative: 5 out of 15
  1. Jan 26, 2012
    Such venom, such wailing and gnashing of teeth, the cheek of the director spinning a yarn about the Bard. You might have thought he suggested Jesus was an alien. Good grief, it's entertainment folks. It's actually a wonderful film, pulsing with Elizabethan life. Great acting, funny, wild, compelling and gripping. So it's not exactly true. It's NOT a documentary. One of my favorites of 2011. I'm appalled so many critics slammed it. Expand
  2. Dec 24, 2012
    This is a film that has stayed within my personal top ten since its release. Watching again tonight for what is likely the fifth time... I lost count. Still love it as if it were the first time. NOTE: this is tale of a theory for an alternate history of Shakespeare himself. If your not willing to consider the theory as possible then you will not enjoy it as much. Keep an open mind and you will lose yourself in this wonderful tale. Oh and see how many Shakespearean references you can find in the protagonists life! Expand
  3. Oct 30, 2011
    The writings by William Shakespeare are celebrated all over the world. He has been called a genius of his craft and considered by many to be the best playwright in history. However, there are theories out there that insists Shakespeare did not write one single thing. The thought of Shakespeare never creating Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet, or Julius Caesar seems preposterous. Yet there are conspiracy theorists out there who believe just that and I would assume director Roland Emmerich may be one of them. He uses Anonymous to present a scenario that explores the idea of who the â Expand
  4. Mar 6, 2012
    My only complaint is that I found myself getting lost in the plot sometimes. But have no fear, all questions will be answered. In the end, it was quite enjoyable. Expand
  5. Nov 11, 2011
    This was, perhaps, the most frustratingly confusing movie I've ever watched. Good luck trying to keep track of who's who as the screenplay constantly bounces around through time. Some of the actors even look alike which added to the confusion. The acting, costumes, and cinematography is sublime. This could have been up there with the great "Amedeus" if the storytelling was improved. There is a scene towards the end that attempts to sum up everything you watched to that point, but it is too late and still doesn't explain everything. After the movie my friend and I were both confused. The cast of characters is large and the constant time travel ruins it. I may attempt to watch the film again on blu-ray when it is released so I can watch at my own pace and try to figure it all out. Movies aren't very fun when you still don't know who all the characters are halfway through the film. Expand
  6. Nov 11, 2011
    The basic premise: Shakespeare did not write his plays and poems, but this movie is anything but basic. The plot may be the most convoluted and confusing I've ever seen. Perhaps if you have a thorough understanding of Tudor history, it might make more sense. The story jumps around in time and involves all manner of intrigue in Queen Elizabeth's court. On the positive side, it never drags and looks good. Expand
  7. Nov 8, 2011
    The premise itself is a disgrace but at least the movie could have been shot and made competently. I don't think they did the premise justice, stressing again that I find the premise classist and inaccurate. Expand

See all 15 User Reviews


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