All Is True
Following Olivier Assayas’ example, Kenneth Branagh shakes off the failure-reeking dust of Murder on the Orient Express and returns to his happy place with the respectable William Shakespeare biopic All Is True.
A moving mixture of the man and his words, the film zeroes in on an intriguing chapter in The Bard’s life, that of 1613 when he returns to his hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon after his Globe Theatre burns and he retires from writing.
Amidst the lovely period surroundings, the action moves fairly well between William adjusting to life beyond the page and stage, retroactively coming to terms with the death of his son Hamnet, and navigating his two daughters’ tarnished reputations.
These dramas aren’t realized through anything that would be called great filmmaking — Branagh doesn’t seem capable of such heights — but as with most of his catalog, it’s adequate, professional, and encourages performances to shine from its trio of British legends.
Branagh looks the part and delivers a Scene of the Year candidate with one especially sharp tell-off to a sour neighbor, while Judi Dench is pleasantly pushy as his wife Anne Hathaway. Then there’s Ian McKellen, who simply has to smirk in order to light up the room in his handful of onscreen minutes as Henry Wriothesley, the Earl of Southampton.
Grade: B. Rated PG-13. Now playing at Grail Moviehouse
(Photo: Sony Pictures Classics)