Shakespeare in Love - rated - SIMMERING

Watching this film was like wallowing in a tub of marshmallow. It allowed me to indulge in lots of lovely things - to watch beautiful people saying beautiful lines, to congratulate myself on recognising quotes from various of Shakespeare's plays, and to be the first in the theatre to laugh at all the literary and theatrical and cinematic in-jokes. I loved the jokes about writers, and production credits, and I thought Joseph Fiennes brought a wonderful youthful energy and gusto to his portrayal of the young Will Shakespeare. How come nobody ever mentions his performances in reveiews of this film and Elizabeth .

As for Gwyneth Paltrow - if only it had been Cate Blanchett, and not Gwyneth, as Viola. Cate has the stage experience - the theatrical credibility - to do the role justice. And I fancy her other-worldly looks might have registered better in the cross-dressing parts of the role. Gwyneth just looked ridiculous. And when she read the achingly beautiful "bits" of Shakespeare that she got to do, it was just that - reading. Cate could have made them sing. Still, that would be another movie....

The whole experience, though intensely pleasurable, was not sustaining. And afterwards, I felt as if I had read too many "Scoutline Notes," or over-indulged on "Shakepeare Lite." This is not a film that I feel will sear itself on my memory. Good, but not great.

Any film with Tom Stoppard as one of its writers can't be scoffed at. I'm not doing that. It has a good pedigree. But Tom Stoppard as one of the writers? My guess is that he didn't write the story - he's too original, and this story has been told before several times. Clearly, Stoppard is responsible for many of the literary jokes and jibes, especially the more obscure ones like the reference to playwright John Webster (the boy who tortures the mice). But none of this can explain, however, why this bit of fun got the best picture Oscar over The Thin Red Line . Fun, yes. Picture of the Year? No. Best actress, my eye! Still, that's no surprise. Don't forget who got the Oscar for best actress in 1998 - that well known diva, Helen Hunt!