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Shakespeare in Love (1998)
Also known as:
- A Comedy About the Greatest Love Story Almost Never Told...
- Love is the only inspiration.
A "what if" romantic comedy about a dashing young William Shakespeare discovering that Gwyneth Paltrow is a great cure for writer's block, "Shakepeare in Love" is a sharp, classy, beguiling, endlessly entertaining satire that borrows knowingly from the Bard as it follows his fictional struggle to write a comedy called "Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate's Daughter."
Joseph Fiennes (who plays the queen's lover in "Elizabeth," this winter's other Elizabethan Oscar contender) stars as a brooding, hunky Shakespeare -- a Renaissance Calvin Klein model with ink-stained hands from his endless hours at the quill.
Commissioned to write a low-brow comedy that will fuel a rivalry between two theaters, he's stuck in a rut and winging his way through rehearsals without a script until he meets Viola (Paltrow), a radiant heiress whose passion for poetry and the stage drives her to audition for a role disguised as a man (women were not allowed to act in Elizabethan England).
Viola has been betrothed to the odious but titled Lord Wessex (Colin Firth), but is at heart a romantic, determined to have poetry, adventure and love "like a riot in the heart."
As an engrossing romance blossoms between the playwright and this girl, the perceived tragedy of it all (she's about to be married and he is already) inspires "Romeo and Ethel" to become something different all together, leading to a rash of re-writes, confused actors, dubious producers and one red-faced fiancé. [source: Rob Blackwelder, Splicedwire]