By stating the events as such fact, and basing them in mostly truth, the film seems unkindly misleading, and that gives All Is True an unwanted, overbearing demeanour
The nature and purpose of Ben Elton’s script is remarkably evident, and that comes clear from even the title of All Is True. Directed by long time thespian Kenneth Branagh, the feature details the final years of William Shakespeare’s life as he returns home to Stratford-Upon-Avon for the first time in 20 years. Also performed by Branagh, Shakespeare’s retirement is noted as being somewhat ambiguous in its meaning and its contents, and All Is True wants to play on that, becoming a ‘what may have happened’ picture rather that a ‘this did happen’ feature. But by stating the events as such fact, and basing them in mostly truth, the film seems unkindly misleading, and that gives All Is True an unwanted, overbearing demeanour.
Branagh is desperate to use artistic license to tell Shakespeare’s story, adding themes and ideas that would naturally hold as exciting or engaging were they offered as ambiguous notions; but too much of the film is told in this truthful manner, and that disguises and questions even the moments with concrete definition.
This isn’t to suggest All Is True is poor, in fact it’s the opposite, with an incredible setting and truly beautiful cinematography to relay it’s morals. Yet the persistent reaffirming of artistic license and exploration of Shakespeare’s life stops much of the meaning from hitting home. Too often will the film swap serious and arduous scenes for fleeting and fanciful ideas, changing pace and tone too quickly and too often.
Naming the film All Is True was bold enough, but as a character piece it doesn’t hold itself in the way it needed to. There’s no consistency to Branagh’s Shakespeare, and often no reason. His final year’s may have been spent searching for meaning, but the film offers that in the form of a stupid and stubborn man. Taking the film as gospel would be a silly decision, because much of All Is True is pure speculation, despite the film’s final message reaffirming that ‘All Is True.’ It is too surreal a turn for a film of absolute composure.
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