A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie has numerous racy moments, including graphic sexual scenes and partial female nudity. Much of the dialogue carries a crass sexual undertone. However, the violence, consisting mostly of sword and dagger battles, is relatively benign for a teenage audience.
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What's the story?
This majestic, romantic movie imagines the inspiration and events surrounding the writing of William Shakespeare's storied lovers' tragedy, Romeo and Juliet. SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE begins with a mid-career Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) battling writer's block as he struggles to create a new masterpiece. Enter Viola (Gwyneth Paltrow), an aristocrat's daughter enamored with theater and romance. Like the gender disguise of numerous Shakespeare plays, Viola dresses as a male to audition for Shakespeare's play, since women are forbidden to act. Upon hearing her, Shakespeare is convinced that he has found his male lead. Startled by the famed playwright, she dashes from the theater. Shakespeare follows her, sneaks into her mansion, and sees the radiant, unmasked Viola. He falls for her, and like his Romeo, Shakespeare woos his love underneath her balcony. A passionate secret love affair ensues, and he begins to compose Romeo and Juliet. The play and love affair develop concurrently. Though their love is strong, Viola and Shakespeare face extraordinary obstacles to their relationship.
Is it any good?
Shakespeare in Love paints a stunning, nuanced portrait of life and theater in the Elizabethan era. All the actors thoroughly embody their characters, from the brooding eyes and ink-stained fingers of Joseph Fiennes' Shakespeare, to Gwyneth Paltrow's ethereal and independent Viola, and a superlative cast of supporting actors, including Ben Affleck as a prima donna actor and Judi Dench as a formidable Queen Elizabeth.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the characters' conflicts between family, duty, and love. They could also discuss the movie's treatment of gender and class.
How do Viola and Queen Elizabeth both subvert and conform to the limitations of their status as females? What are the privileges and limitations of class and social status?
How do these issues compare with circumstances today?
For kids who love romance
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