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Review: ‘Anonymous’

Rhys Ifans in Roland Emmerich's 'Anonymous' (Columbia Pictures)
Rhys Ifans in Roland Emmerich's 'Anonymous' (Columbia Pictures)

Roland Emmerich’s ‘Anonymous’ is a disaster movie of another kind. Over the past 20 years or so, Emmerich has steadily pumped out large-scale action pictures that provide a reliable source of entertainment for the masses. Thus, it’s completely fitting that he turn his attention to popular entertainment of the late 16th and early 17th centuries.

As with all of Emmerich’s films since 1992 — Universal SoldierStargate,  Independence DayGodzillaThe PatriotThe Day After Tomorrow10,000 BC, and 2012 — his newest endeavor mixes together the best visual effects possible, a mawkish sense of drama, and intermittent attempts at comedic relief. Occasionally, there is a surprising performance that stands out, and that distinction in ‘Anonymous’ belongs to Rhys Ifans as the Earl of Oxford.

The Earl is a tragic figure, coming to the royal household of Queen Elizabeth I as a dashing, confident young man who desires to express a creative fire that burns within his soul, but also wishing to be a mighty man of war, as well as a protector of the young, flighty monarch.

The Earl and the Queen, played in their younger years by Jamie Campbell Bower and Joely Richardson, respectively, enjoy a comfortable, familiar relationship, which only serves to put Lord William Cecil (David Thewlis), the Queen’s most trusted advisor, further on guard. Cecil has his own agenda, which he discloses to no one in full, but he definitely doesn’t want the Earl and the Queen to get too close.

. . .

Standing apart from all the speculation, Rhys Ifans is pretty terrific as a haunted man crushed by a sense of duty and motivated by a love of country and his Queen. His performance alone is almost sufficient to make up for all the shortfalls of a tragedy that isn’t as persuasive as it needs to be.

— From my review at Twitch.

‘Anonymous’ opens today at AMC NorthPark and Landmark Magnolia in Dallas, as well as the Cinemark West Plano, Cinemark Legacy, and Movie Tavern – 7th Street in Fort Worth.