All Is True – United Kingdom
Wednesday, January 22nd
Show Times: 6:30 & 8:30 pm
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, Ian McKellen
Running Time: 101 minutes
AARP Award, Best Supporting Actress, Judi Dench
“In a mesmerizing meditation on Shakespeare’s last days, director-star Kenneth Branagh shuns the idea of the Bard as a literary rock star to find the flawed, touchingly human man inside.”—Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
When Kenneth Branagh steps on screen as William Shakespeare in All is True, it’s a career moment: Here is Branagh, Hollywood’s foremost Shakespeare obsessive, finally playing the Bard himself.
After appearing in and/or directing screen versions of Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing, Othello, Hamlet, Love’s Labour’s Lost and Macbeth, playing Shakespeare is Branagh realizing his life’s destiny, and he dives in with zeal.
All is True brings Shakespeare to life, grounds him, and demystifies the legend of history’s greatest playwright. It’s a loving and often humourous work, and Branagh — who also directs — shows viewers a quiet, reflective Shakespeare, away from the limelight in his final years.
Branagh opens in 1613, after a fire destroys London’s Globe Theatre during a performance of “Henry VIII,” known at the time as “All is True.” Shakespeare vows to never write again, and returns home to Stratford where he takes up, um… gardening?
Judi Dench plays Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathaway (not the Hollywood actress), while Lydia Wilson and Kathryn Wilder play his two daughters. Bill is still torn up about the death of his son years earlier (Hamnet, believe it or not), which he never fully internalized, and his return home brings up unresolved feelings.
Mostly located in the lush Stratford area, All is True is so beautifully shot, with Vermeer window light, meticulous detail, and gorgeous greenery, it would be enough just to see how people lived and died (from the plague, mostly) in Shakespeare’s day. We also work through various plot layers, including Will trying to connect with his eldest daughter. A few guests pop by the estate for a visit, including Ian McKellen, who offers up a deliciously catty, award-worthy cameo as the Earl of Southampton.
But mostly what All is True does is give viewers is a fresh look at Shakespeare, behind the guise, flaws and all. And if ever there was a man for that job, it’s Kenneth Branagh.