Directed by Roland Emmerich
At a glance, this might seem like an interesting movie. The concept of Shakespeare being a fraud may be intriguing enough to earn your initial interest, but an incredibly weak script and poor performances make Anonymous a dull and unrewarding experience.
With a plot spawned from the imagination of a deluded mind, the profoundly flawed storyline doesn't pack enough of a punch to keep it interesting throughout its too-long running time. As is the case with most conspiracies, the concepts can be quite entertaining if both you and the presenter are fully aware of just how far-fetched the story may be. Where this movie fails is in its insistence upon taking itself far too seriously for its own good.
The acting, dialogue, and plot design/development of Anonymous prove to be a fatal combination. Many of the characters found in this movie could have been cardboard cut-outs, and the acting provided by the pathetic cast only serves to prove my point even further. With the singular exception of Rhys Ifans (we'll get to him later), the cast is rarely even remotely believable, delivering their lines without even the tiniest shred of sincerity and conviction.
Rhys Ifans, who plays the "real" Shakespeare, does what he can with his role, despite poor characterization provided by the script. Somehow he manages to bring an added layer of depth to his performance, showing genuine emotion, and putting his personification one step above the rest of the cast -- and easily two or three steps above Sebastian Armesto, whose over-zealous and painstakingly hammy performance is a standout in its own right. In fact, Ifans' surprisingly compelling performance seems slightly out of place in an otherwise poorly acted movie.
There is one other praise-worthy element apart from Ifans' engaging performance, and that is from a purely visual perspective. With a dark, moody atmosphere and cinematography that wouldn't be out of place in the most grandiose of epics, Anonymous is shot with the cinematic style and zeal of a movie far greater than it ever would have had the right to be. It's hard to belittle the filmmaker's vision in that sense, but one can't help but to feel much talent was put to waste in the creation of this movie. Nevertheless, thanks to the talent put into these aspects of the film, this becomes a movie far easier to watch than it otherwise would have been.
As contrived and flawed as the plot and characterizations may be, these few strong characteristics make Anonymous watchable, but very forgettable. Definitely nothing worth recommending.