Universal acclaim - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 33
  2. Negative: 0 out of 33
  1. Some scholars may scowl, some lowbrows may scoff. But, like wordwise Will, these filmmakers know how to win a crowd -- from the queen down to the groundlings, from the sky above to the stage below. Bravo! [5 December 1998, Friday, p.A]
  2. 100
    I was carried along by the wit, the energy and a surprising sweetness.
  3. Reviewed by: Rod Dreher
    If she (Paltrow) were the only good thing about Shakespeare in Love, it still would have been worth seeing; that she is the crown jewel in a glittering tiara of a film studded with writing and acting gems testifies to the deep pleasures to be found in this remarkable movie.
  4. Reviewed by: Ruthe Stein
    Anyone not romantically inclined going into Shakespeare in Love surely will be by the end.
  5. The richest and most satisfying romantic movie of the year. It's really about two great loves at once -- the love of life and of art -- and the way that Shakespeare, like no writer before him, transformed the one into the other.
  6. Reviewed by: Barry Johnson
    Like "Amadeus," Shakespeare in Love works splendidly as an appreciation of an artist in the heat of creation, and it breathes life into "Romeo and Juliet."
  7. Reviewed by: Norman Green
    These are the heights of cinematic achievement.
  8. Reviewed by: Gemma Files
    It's a rollicking good time, full of genuine emotional pull and incandescent acting, and anchored by a passionate love for the theater itself which puts most human liaisons--including Shakespeare and Viola's -- to shame.
  9. 100
    One of those entertaining confections that's so pleasing to the eye and ear you'd have to be a genuine Scrooge to struggle against it.
  10. Shakespeare meets Sherlock, and makes for pure enchantment in the inspired conjecture behind Shakespeare in Love.
  11. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    The true, rare glamour of the piece is its revival of two precious movie tropes: the flourishing of words for their majesty and fun, and--in the love play between Fiennes and his enchantress--the kindling of a playfully adult eroticism.
  12. Paltrow and Fiennes are so good and the script, referencing not only "Romeo and Juliet" but "Twelfth Night," is so consistently intelligent that seduction is inevitable.
  13. With most historical films the informed viewer scrutinizes in order to cluck at errors. (There are books full of such cluckings.) With Shakespeare in Love, the more one knows, the more one can enjoy the liberties taken. [Jan. 4, 1999]
  14. Reviewed by: Eleonore Snow
    The result is a film that is as witty, astute, and romantic as its timeless subject.
  15. 90
    Stoppard's luxuriant, richly comic language cascades and washes over you, and, for once, more than keeps pace with the sprightly pictures.
  16. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    The beauty of this extremely clever movie, directed with fleet, robust theatricality by John Madden, is how deftly it manages to work on multiple levels.
  17. Reviewed by: Lael Lowenstein
    Exquisitely acted, tightly directed and impressively assembled.
  18. The movie becomes something quite rare and magical: a text about a text that is also full of life. In other words, it's a true first: It's both postmodern and fun!
  19. 90
    It's easy to suspend disbelief and embrace this historically creative fiction, whose clever relationship to what's known and what's unresolved is part of what makes it so intriguing and so romantic.
  20. Reviewed by: Jennifer Nowitzky
    The most romantic film of the year.
  21. The end result is a delightful, though a smidge too long, reminder of one of the reasons we so enjoy going to the movies: perchance to dream.
  22. Inordinately clever, sprightly romantic comedy.
  23. Its brazen mixture of the comic and dramatic, the high and low and the emotional and intellectual is positively Shakespearean.
  24. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    Accessibly brainy screen charmer.
  25. The whole ensemble has a hoot with this material, and their joy is contagious.
  26. 80
    Delivers the goods, if the goods you're in the market for happen to be a clever romance concerning William Shakespeare that's unlikely to cause anyone to reassess their notions of Shakespeare, romance, or enjoyment.
  27. Reviewed by: M. V. Moorhead
    These filmmakers have taken a historical figure and made him into a hot-blooded romantic hero. Shakespeare did that a time or two himself.
  28. 75
    Not a great film, but it's an excuse to have an evening of pure enjoyment with a little culture painlessly mixed in.
  29. Reviewed by: Sandra Contreras
    This delightful, fast-paced and entirely fictional imagining of Shakespeare's life during the writing of "Romeo and Juliet" brims with witticisms predicated on the determination to have a rollicking good time exploring the link between libido and creativity.
  30. 70
    Good fun, though not more than up-market situation comedy studded with the usual leaps out of period-speak to swipe at contemporary Hollywood.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 113 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 36
  2. Negative: 8 out of 36
  1. Jan 29, 2012
    wonderful film.terribly underrated just because it's romantic comedy that won an Oscar instead of WWII epic. forget Oscars and enjoy in one of the most original and witty romantic comedies. though I wish it was less romantic and more wacky. but still the idea to use Shakespeare as a character in Shakespearean comedy makes this one the most original romantic comedies ever. Maybe Saving Private Ryan was better (it's the matter of taste, and they cannot be compared cause they are so different) but this is still one of the best Oscar winning films in the last 30 years (especially comparing to the subsequent ones). Full Review »
  2. Dec 31, 2011
    Beautifully written. Commendable costumes. Excellent cast and their acts. Emotionally convincing. Morally uplifting. One of the best in the 90s. SPLENDID.
    Full Review »
  3. Oct 13, 2011
    This movie deserves a special place in hell. On its own, it is a truly terrible movie - with boring characters and tons of whiny girly love cr&p.
    The real reason why all copies of it should be burned was the fact that it beat "Saving Private Ryan" for best picture. This is the 2nd greatest outrage of all TV/Movie history next to Firefly being cancelled. SPR is possibly the best war movie of all time, and this is just some sappy made-up fantasy cr&p which does not follow the realities of the time of Shakespeare at all.
    Boring, terrible, overrated - punch one of the members of the Academy if you ever meet them.
    Full Review »