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Shakespeare in Love Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 5.0

    out of 100

    Universal acclaim
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    The richest and most satisfying romantic movie of the year. It's really about two great loves at once -- the love of life and of art -- and the way that Shakespeare, like no writer before him, transformed the one into the other.

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  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    I was carried along by the wit, the energy and a surprising sweetness.

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  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Michael Wilmington

    Some scholars may scowl, some lowbrows may scoff. But, like wordwise Will, these filmmakers know how to win a crowd -- from the queen down to the groundlings, from the sky above to the stage below. Bravo! [5 December 1998, Friday, p.A]

  • 75

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    Not a great film, but it's an excuse to have an evening of pure enjoyment with a little culture painlessly mixed in.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    USA Today Mike Clark

    Accessibly brainy screen charmer.

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  • See all Shakespeare in Love reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 16+

Lavish historical drama has explicit sex scenes.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie has numerous racy moments, including graphic sexual scenes and partial female nudity. Much of the dialogue carries a crass sexual undertone. However, the violence, consisting mostly of sword and dagger battles, is relatively benign for a teenage audience.

  • Families can talk about the characters' conflicts between family, duty, and love. They could also discuss the movie's treatment of gender and class.
  • How do Viola and Queen Elizabeth both subvert and conform to the limitations of their status as females? What are the privileges and limitations of class and social status?
  • How do these issues compare with circumstances today?

The good stuff
  • message true2

    Messages: Shows the power of a good love story to compel an audience.

  • rolemodels true0

    Role models: While a strong female character goes after the love she wants at a time in history when it was very difficult to do so, she is still after a married man. Shakespeare goes against what's popular and follows his own creative path, even though it could lead him to ruin.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: Sword and dagger fighting. A man's boot-clad feet are burned as punishment for an unpaid debt; his torturers then threaten to cut off his ears if the sum is not soon repaid.

  • sex false4

    Sex: Numerous sexual encounters, some with nudity.

  • language false3

    Language: Bawdy banter and a few expletives.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not applicable

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Characters drink in a tavern and a brothel. Alcohol-induced disorder erupts.