As part of what’s turning into my Shakespeare/Elizabethan course of study this year, I rented Elizabeth. Like Shakespeare in Love, I saw it in the theater the year it came out. I think I enjoyed it better then, before I learned a little about film. The performances are strong, particularly Blanchett’s and Geoffrey Rush’s, and the costumes are spectacular. I’d forgotten Daniel Craig in the cast. Yet too often I felt as if I were watching a music video rather than an historical movie–the visuals were too splashy. Additionally, the story was hardly subtle. Like Shakespeare’s history plays, the heroes and villains are not complex. Instead they’re so starkly defined they’re almost caricatures. Elizabeth was pretty to look at, so-so on historical accuracy, and mostly entertaining. Worth watching, though not what I’d call a great film.
Compared to Shakespeare in Love, I thought Elizabeth had a worse performance from Joseph Fiennes, but a better one from Blanchett than from Gwyneth Paltrow, who took home the Best Actress Oscar that year.