Who was William Shakespeare? Was he the Bard of Avon, the poet and playwright of humble beginnings whose command of the language gave us Hamlet, Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream? Or was he a drunk, a fraud and a shameless opportunist?
Anonymous, Roland Emmerich’s sure-to-be controversial (at least in academic circles) historical epic, espouses the Oxfordian theory of Shakespearean authorship, attributing all those masterworks to Edward de Vere (Rhys Ifans), the 17th Earl of Oxford. Shakespeare (Rafe Spall), functionally illiterate and fulfilled more by gold and mead than the joy of artistic expression, is seem as a contemptible fool.
John Cusack is a reliably interesting actor, and if his movies are not always up to the standards of his best – among them, Say Anything… (1989) and High Fidelity (2000) – they are at least watchable. That he has chosen to star in Roland Emmerich’s latest disaster fantasy, the laughably overwrought 2012, does no damage to his credibility, and reaffirms his talent for bringing heft to an otherwise weightless exercise.