Anonymous

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Anonymous Movie Poster Image
Uneven drama questions Shakespeare's identity.
  • PG-13
  • 2011
  • 130 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 3 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

In this period drama, honesty is rarely the best policy. Almost all of the characters are lying about something, whether it's to achieve wealth, power, love, or some combination of the three. People are happy to engage in a huge theatrical deception because it's quite lucrative. Others conspire and manipulate people for political reasons.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The Earl of Oxford will do almost anything to pursue his passion (writing), even letting others take credit for his work just so he can see his plays performed. His passion is impressive, though he ignores his other responsibilities and his own family to pursue his work.

Violence

Several scenes feature swordfights and armed clashes between soldiers, as well as intense torture sequences and an angry mob attempting to storm a castle.

Sex

Love scenes show people embracing, passionately kissing, and lying in bed (during/after simulated sex), both clothed and partially clothed. Implied oral sex, and some sex sounds. Several cleavage shots and both partial and complete views of men's bare bottoms. Lots of innuendo/suggestive talk and discussions of the political impact of children being born out of wedlock. Infidelity and prostitution; references to incest.

Language

"Bollocks," "my God," etc.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A few scenes show people drinking in pubs and occasionally being drunk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that that this period drama set in Elizabethan England questions whether William Shakespeare was truly the author of the plays and poems attributed to his famous quill. The film focuses on several huge deceptions, so there's plenty of lying, manipulation, and scheming -- just about everyone is trying to obscure the truth. There are also some intense torture scenes and a few battles, as well as lots of innuendo and several scenes showing cleavage, glimpses of bare bottoms, and people in bed -- though there's no graphic nudity. Many of the movie's themes are rather adult, including the central literary hoax and the political implications of children born out of wedlock to royal parents.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byCompass March 1, 2012

Great film, but needlessly sexual at times.

(Sexuality) As a 20 year-old man, I must admit that I found the first love/sex scene in the film, while not truly explicit, to be exceptionally gritty; there is... Continue reading
Adult Written bystringbean February 21, 2012

Don't waste your time or money on this one!

This is a big waste of time and is hard to follow. There is also a quick glimpse of a man's butt while he is having sex with a prostitute whose breasts are... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byevolinag February 5, 2012

Unoriginal hollywood flick is not too strong.

"Anonymous" is, even though the plot sounds interesting, nowhere a masterpiece. Director Roland Emmerich, usually known for his overblown, dumb disast... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byLittleBlue2 November 6, 2011

ANONYMOUS

A political thriller advancing the theory that it was in fact Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford who penned Shakespeare's plays; set against the backdrop of th... Continue reading

What's the story?

Who really wrote Romeo and Juliet? ANONYMOUS posits that William Shakespeare wasn't actually the acclaimed author of the most famous plays in the English language. Instead, the movie says, they were penned by a frustrated nobleman (Rhys Ifans) who desired nothing more than to write but was instead dragged into the machinations of Queen Elizabeth's court and forced to hide his passion, letting an illiterate actor take credit for his life's work. The literary deception is set against a political conspiracy, as the queen's advisors scheme to capture the throne; the two threads tie together as the real playwright attempts to use his words -- rather than swords -- to steer history.

Is it any good?

The film has a complex sequence, jumping back and forth between four different time periods, and can be hard to follow. Director Roland Emmerich is better known for his action blockbusters (Independence Day, 2012), and Anonymous works better when he's staging battles than in the many quiet moments when he's attempting to establish the literary fraud.

It's also hard to tell whether Emmerich actually believes in this great Shakespearean conspiracy or if he's just trying to spin a good tale. And it is a good story, with political intrigue, lusty lords and ladies, people with mysterious noble lineage, and some world-class schemers. Still, while the film is entertaining, some viewers might not be sure whether to take it as historical fact or simply a fanciful yarn.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Shakespeare. Do you buy the controversial theory that he might not have written his plays? Why do you think such ideas persist?

  • What are the movie's messages? What is it saying about honesty? Is it ever OK to lie?

  • What would you do if you were forbidden from pursuing the one source of passion in your life? Why was the Earl of Oxford willing to let others take credit for his work?

Movie details

For kids who love dramas

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