Da'ud Bob's Movie Review
July 2019 

I’d run across a reference to this month’s movie almost by accident. Well, if finding anything on the internet can be considered an accident. The title wasn’t much help, but the very brief description, along with the names of the principal actors, made me think that this was something that I definitely wanted to see, and to review for you, my faithful readers. So I watched for it. And watched for it. And watched for it. I finally saw a release date, but no movie of that name was scheduled to be shown anywhere in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex on that date. I finally saw that it would be playing at one of the “arts” movie theaters here, but two weeks after the alleged release date. Indeed, it would show only at that theater. I didn’t know for how long, and so at the first opportunity following its opening, in between days of rain and thunderstorms and the occasional tornado, Anna Sue and I made our way to the Angelika Theater, sat down in the nearly empty screening room, and had most of our expectations fulfilled. And so it is that this month, Da’ud Bob reviews for you the only-in-limited-release new film, All Is True.

Starring Kenneth Branagh (who also produced and directed) as William Shakespeare, Judi Dench as Anne (Hathaway) Shakespeare, Ian McKellen as Henry Wriothesley, the Earl of Southhampton, Kathryn Wilder as Judith Shakespeare, Lydia Wilson as Susannah (Shakespeare) Hall, Hadley Fraser as Susannah’s husband John Hall, Gerard Horan as Ben Jonson, Sam Ellis as Shakespeare’s deceased son Hamnet, and Jack Colgrave Hirst as Tom Quiney, this movie is “a look at the final days in the life of renowned playwright William Shakespeare.” A more detailed synopsis is: “The year is 1613, Shakespeare is acknowledged as the greatest writer of the age. But disaster strikes when his renowned Globe Theatre burns to the ground, and devastated, Shakespeare returns to Stratford, where he must face a troubled past and a neglected family. Haunted by the death of his only son Hamnet, he struggles to mend the broken relationships with his wife and daughters. In so doing, he is ruthlessly forced to examine his own failings as husband and father. His very personal search for the truth uncovers secrets and lies within a family at war.”

Good points: Given the main stars, the whole movie feels a bit like “old home week” at the Royal Shakespeare Company. And yes, that’s a very good thing! Both Branagh and McKellen quoting a Shakespeare sonnet to each other. The carved wooden chair.

Misses (I hesitate to call them “bad points”, though that’s what I usually term them here): Judith burning the poems. There are too many allusions and references to a single item in Shakespeare’s will, leaving to his wife Anne his “second best bed.”  Those parish records are far less cramped and messy, containing a lot more white space, than actual parish records from that time that I have seen while researching my genealogy. Parish records of the time never listed the cause of death, so the lack of a cause of death in Hamnet’s entry is nothing out of the ordinary. Again, I’ve looked through, and have images of, parish records from the time.

Zero breasts. Zero gallons of blood. No dead bodies. Word fu. Shovel fu. Insult fu. (When Shakespeare lays into the local knight with a verbal barrage, it’s a wonderful thing to hear.) Waves roll. Gratuitous swan. Gratuitous hollyhocks. Academy Award nomination to Kenneth Branagh for telling the dog what to, and what not to, pee on; for explaining the writing a play is like baking a loaf of bread; and for “I’ve never let the truth get in the way of a good story.” A paltry 23 on the Vomit Meter. A rare Four (****) Stars. Da’ud Bob says, “Yeah, it’s fiction. Yes, a lot of it is pure conjecture unfounded on documented or documentable history. But it’s a wonderful movie of the last years of the Bard of Avon, performed by people who have truly studied Shakespeare. Be sure to check it out!”


Upcoming movies and miniseries to watch for!

All Is Well

Now playing in limited release
“A look at the final days in the life of renowned playwright William Shakespeare.” Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, Ian McKellen.



Now playing in wide release

Live-action remake of the Disney cartoon version. "A kindhearted street urchin and a power-hungry Grand Vizier vie for a magic lamp that has the power to make their deepest wishes come true."  Will Smith in the Robin Williams role of the Genie, Naomi Scott, Alan Tudyk.


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