1 hr. 41 min. | Rated M | Offensive language & sexual references.
Starring: Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, Kathryn Wilder, Jack Colgrave Hirst, Matt Jessup
All is True. Written by Ben Elton and directed by its star Kenneth Branagh, the film plays fast and loose with the playwright’s final years. There is a succinct emotional truth though to All is True, whose name comes from the alternative title to Shakespeare’s final play, Henry VIII. It was during a performance of that play that a rogue cannon burnt the Globe Theatre to the ground in 1613 – and it is in the aftermath of that disaster that the film begins. Shakespeare, vowing that he is “done with stories”, returns home to his family in Stratford to live out the rest of his days. But he has been absent for so long that his arrival disrupts their life more than completes it.
He is promptly consigned to the guest room by his wife Anne, played with commanding steeliness by Judi Dench . Meanwhile, his sharp-tongued daughter Judith (Kathryn Wilder), a 28-year-old “spinster”, resents him for dredging up the death of her twin brother Hamnet. Shakespeare resolves to build a garden in Hamnet’s honour – but he didn’t attend his son’s funeral when he actually died, 17 years ago.
His other daughter, Susanna (Lydia Wilson), is unhappily married to leading Puritan John Hall, and may or may not be having an affair with a local haberdasher – but it is in writing the enjoyably snarky Judith that Elton really sharpens his quill. Deploying some deliciously anachronistic turns of phrase.