Generally favorable reviews - based on 38 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 38
  2. Negative: 0 out of 38
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  1. Reviewed by: Ray Bennett
    Those who thought "Shakespeare In Love" was as good as it gets in intelligent costume romantic comedy will find that director Richard Eyre and writer Jeffrey Hatcher have taken the form to a higher level.
  2. Crudup is whole. He creates the man who has pride in what he does, who is suddenly stripped of the work and the pride; and who makes his way, somewhat painfully, to another sort of pride. His story is a small but acute poignancy in the history of the theater, and Crudup realizes it completely.
  3. It's not as clever, or as consistently funny, or as well-cast as "Shakespeare in Love," but Richard Eyre's Stage Beauty is the most fun I've had with the Bard since that 1998 Oscar winner.
  4. A rich, shining valentine to the British theater and the eternal joys of Shakespeare,
  5. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    This skillfully acted, handsomely crafted frock piece toys cleverly with gender confusion and sexual identity.
  6. Reviewed by: Alan Morrison
    A film that, despite being about theatre itself, is remarkably cinematic and entirely unafraid to revel in the English language.
  7. 80
    The movie blows a fresh wind of disrespect, high drama and lush romanticism through that stolidly middlebrow subgenre, the period drama.
  8. Reviewed by: Carina Chocano
    Sly and witty.
  9. 75
    Expertly directed by Richard Eyre (Iris) from Jeffrey Hatcher's play, the film is bawdy fun.
  10. In the popularity sweepstakes, Stage Beauty may earn top honors, outdoing the overrated "Shakespeare in Love" as a dramatic comedy about life and love in an era more naive - but hardly more innocent - than our own.
  11. 75
    Sometimes teeters on the verge of going completely over the top, but it's mostly saved by its own self-awareness.
  12. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    Beauty is about two-thirds the serious-edged romp it would like to be, which still leaves a lot of room for tony fun.
  13. 75
    Claire Danes is as fresh as running water in this role, exhibiting the clarity and directness that has become her strength; her characters tend to know who they are, and why.
  14. 75
    Has a weird, compelling energy, fueled by a deliciously dynamic cast, a cheerfully bawdy and odd story line and a refreshing, impossible romance.
  15. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    It's a marvelous premise, and Crudup's serpentine performance has a venomous grace. But Jeffrey Hatcher's screenplay too often sacrifices psychological insight for bogus theatricality.
  16. Crudup, whose features have the appropriate delicacy, plays Ned with complete conviction; it’s difficult to imagine anyone else succeeding as well.
  17. 70
    An entertainment as billowy as a Shakespearean nurse's sail-shaped hat.
  18. Reviewed by: Teresa Wiltz
    Ultimately this is a celebration of the theater, a big, wet kiss to the craft of acting and the artists who inhabited London's early stages.
  19. The design is gorgeous, the dialogue delicious, and even the supporting characters prove resonant.
  20. 70
    The movie's sexual politics couldn't be more regressive--Crudup learns to be a man in the sack as well as on the boards--but it's still a competent middlebrow costume drama.
  21. 67
    For those to whom life is but a stage, this will be sweet, sweet candy; to those of us destined to be their audience, it's a satisfying, if flawed, look behind the curtain.
  22. 63
    For every thing that Stage Beauty does right, it fumbles at least one other element, resulting in a movie-going experience that is of the glass half-full/half-empty variety.
  23. At best, the film makes a more convincing case for the adventure of artificiality: Take Billy Crudup, add a little rouge to his cheeks and suddenly: Voilà, the guy can act.
  24. In the end, viewers are left with a nagging feeling that this was a long way to go for the incongruous pleasure of watching 20th-century method acting on a 17th-century stage.
  25. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Yet Crudup does good, mercurial work despite a silly surfer-dude haircut.
  26. As drama, Stage Beauty is both timorous and ungainly, words that might also describe Ms. Danes's performance.
  27. Reviewed by: Angel Cohn
    The film is an intriguing and hugely theatrical experience whose effectiveness is greatly enhanced by gorgeous period costumes and set design.
  28. A celebration of the theater that tends to drag the moment it's out of drag.
  29. There's an enjoyably literate style here and some humorous moments.
  30. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    The result is more bawdy diversion than historical fable.
  31. 50
    As historical speculation, it's clever enough. As a film, it glows with flop-sweat.
  32. Over-orchestrated and underdeveloped interpretation of Jeffrey Hatcher's play.
  33. The film rarely matches Crudup's performance, appearing confused itself about whether it's farce or drama.
  34. The wigs, hats and gowns look realistic, gorgeous and utterly right. In a vapid confection like Stage Beauty, perhaps that's what really counts.
  35. 50
    Both interesting and insufferable.
  36. 40
    Second-rate bawdiness--that is, bawdiness without the wit of Boccaccio or Shakespeare or even Tom Stoppard--is more infantile than funny, and I’m not sure that the American playwright Jeffrey Hatcher, who concocted this piece for the stage and then adapted it into a movie, is even second-rate.
  37. 40
    Most frustrating, Stage Beauty fumbles XX/XY politics at every turn.
  38. In the end, Stage Beauty is in over its mediocre head.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 20 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 14
  2. Negative: 1 out of 14
  1. Feb 19, 2011
    This is a film I can watch again and again. Billy Crudup and Claire Danes are both
    tremendously talented and this film is a great vehicle
    This is a film I can watch again and again. Billy Crudup and Claire Danes are both
    tremendously talented and this film is a great vehicle for them. Their chemistry is real
    (intense and sizzling). Both these Yanks pull of the British accents with ease. The story is interesting,
    the pace is quick, the music is well chosen and the supporting cast is excellent. I like the ambiguous ending but have no doubt that Maria's great love will save Ned.
    Full Review »
  2. Jace
    Feb 21, 2007
    While not the boiling melodrama one might expect from Shakesperean stew, this one simmers and cooks from start to finish. Highlights are While not the boiling melodrama one might expect from Shakesperean stew, this one simmers and cooks from start to finish. Highlights are Rupert Everett as King Charles II (bawdy, hilarious, over-the-top but utterly believable) and the dialogue, which breathes with extremely clever and irionic wit, as well as delivering emotional blows that linger into subsequent scenes. This movie tells a poignant story and has fun doing so, without ever devolving into plain silliness. Full Review »
  3. ChadShiira
    Oct 17, 2006
    Remember "Cheers"? Remember when Andy Andy and Diane performed "Othello" in Sam's bar? In "Stage Beauty", Maria(Claire Danes) is vague Remember "Cheers"? Remember when Andy Andy and Diane performed "Othello" in Sam's bar? In "Stage Beauty", Maria(Claire Danes) is vague about her acting counterpart's method-gone-mad interpretation of "The Moor" by referring to him as a pronoun. Why? Just in case Ned really isn't trying to kill her? A feminist reading of "Stage Beauty" will point out that Maria is unfairly portrayed as a villian(she's kind of Joan Rivers-like in her seeming disloyalty to Johnny Carson), when, in actuality, it's the budding actress' right to reclaim her sex from transgender masquerade. During Desdemona's death scene, there's a masochistic willingness on Maria's behalf to be punished. Her super-trouper mentality doesn't quite ring true because Danes doesn't convey that unforgettable fire for acting, in which you'd believe that Maria would lay down her life for the stage. Who would be that stupid anyway? But if you'd rather relax and not dig deep into "Stage Beauty", you'll be surprised at how this small film is in every way superior to "Shakespeare in Love". Thanks largely in part to Billy Crudup, who is not the "most beautiful woman on the London stage", but who makes a sublime drag queen. Full Review »