All is True - Film review (4 out of 5)

There is a moment in this film when William Shakespeare (Kenneth Branagh) and the Earl of Southampton (Ian McKellen) recite the Bard’s sonnets to each other and it feels like an acting masterclass.


The beautiful language spoken superbly is a highlight of the movie.

And yet McKellen is hardly in the movie.

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However, making up the third element of a hat-trick of excellent performances is Judi Dench as Shakespeare’s wife Anne.

And let’s face it, a poor performance from Dame Judi is as rare as hen’s teeth.

Directed by Branagh and written by Ben Elton, All is True is a study of the final days of Shakespeare’s life.

He has seen his beloved Globe Theatre reduced to ashes in a fire and has come home after many years away to a family that treats him as an honoured guest at first rather than a husband and father.

Elton, also writer of the very funny BBC TV Series Upstart Crow about the Bard, is clearly a major fan of Shakespeare.

However this movie is a far more sombre affair than the small screen programme, dealing as it does with Shakespeare still trying to come to terms with the death of his son Hamnet, and facing problems with his daughters; one married to a puritan who would have all theatres closed, and the other, Hamnet’s twin, feeling guilty that she lived while her brother died.

Branagh’s direction is spot on and there are some beautifully shot scenes.

There’s a real feel for the period and some gentle humour but it’s really a loving tribute to a man whose poems and plays are still revered around the world.

Film details: All is True (12A) 101mins

Director: Kenneth Branagh

Starring: Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, Ian McKellen

Screening courtesy of Horsham Capitol