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10 Movies You Must Watch if You Love Shakespeare in Love

July 2, 2019
8 min read

Directed by English filmmaker John Madden and co-written by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard, ‘Shakespeare in Love’ follows the fictitious love affair involving playwright William Shakespeare and Viola de Lesseps during a time when Shakespeare was writing Romeo and Juliet. The movie gained notoriety for winning the Academy Award for “Best Picture” over ‘Saving Private Ryan’, directed by Steven Spielberg. Nevertheless, the film is quite an entertaining watch.

‘Shakespeare in Love’ stars Joseph Fiennes as William Shakespeare, Gwyneth Paltrow as Viola de Lesseps, Geoffrey Rush as Philip Henslowe, Colin Firth as Lord Wessex, Ben Affleck as Ned Alleyn and Judi Dench as Queen Elizabeth I. It is shot by English cinematographer Richard Greatrex and edited by David Gamble. The period romantic comedy-drama received positive reviews and was an immensely profitable venture, grossing $289.3 million against a budget of $25 million. It holds a rating of 92% of Rotten Tomatoes and has been included in American Film Institute’s “100 Years…100 Passions”.

For this article, I have taken into account films that have similar narrative structures and visual styles and primarily belong to a period setting. So, without further ado, here is the list of best movies similar to ‘Shakespeare in Love’ that are our recommendations. You can watch several of these movies like ‘Shakespeare in Love’ on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.

10. Beloved Sisters (2014)

A biographical drama, ‘Beloved Sisters’ chronicles the life of the German poet Friedrich Schiller and his relationships with his two sisters, Caroline and Charlotte von Lengefeld. Written and directed by Dominik Graf, ‘Beloved Sisters’ premiered at the Berlin Film Festival and was nominated for the Golden Bear Award. The film stars Henriette Confurius as Charlotte von Lengefeld, Florian Stetter as Friedrich Schiller and Hannah Herzsprung as Caroline von Beulwitz. ‘Beloved Sisters’ received highly positive reviews from critics. The actors were praised for their performances while Graf was applauded for his strained yet artistic direction.

 9. Pride & Prejudice (2005)

Directed by Joe Wright and written by Deborah Moggach, ‘Pride & Prejudice’ is adapted from English novelist Jane Austen’s romantic novel ‘Pride and Prejudice’, published in 1813. A romantic drama, the film follows the five sisters of the Bennet family who have to deal with the issues of marriage, gender subjugation and morality, factors which plagued the 19th century England. The film came under scrutiny due to the number of adaptations and the iconic image of the novel. The maker’s emphasis on realism, however, elevates the film to a whole different level. Kiera Knightley received positive reviews for her layered performance as Elizabeth Bennet. ‘Pride & Prejudice’ premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and after its theatrical release, it bagged a couple of nominations at the Academy Awards, British Academy Film Awards and Golden Globe Awards, to name a few.

8. The Princess of Montpensier (2010)

A French period romance, ‘The Princess of Montpensier’ is set during the time of the French Wars of Religion, and centres on the life of Marie, a Princess, who falls in love with a childhood friend. However, she is forced to marry another man. The narrative blends the social and historical elements of the aforementioned events and the story of the protagonist. ‘The Princess of Montpensier’ premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and was applauded for its clever adaptation of Madame de La Fayette’s novel of the same name.

7. Mysteries of Lisbon (2010)

Directed by Chilean filmmaker Raúl Ruiz and written by Carlos Saboga, ‘Mysteries of Lisbon’ is a Portuguese period drama which follows the interweaving stories of an envious countess, a wealthy businessman, and a young orphaned boy across Portugal, France, Italy and Brazil. Adapted from ‘Os Mistérios de Lisboa’, written by 19th-century Portuguese writer Camilo Castelo Branco, the film uses a variety of narrative and visual techniques to make it an innovate piece of work. ‘Mysteries of Lisbon’ is not as famous as the other films on this list, but is still quite a good work. The period drama won awards for “Best Film” at the São Paulo International Film Festival, Portuguese Golden Globes and Satellite Awards, to name a few.

6. Love & Friendship (2016)

A period comedy, ‘Love & Friendship’ stars Kate Beckinsale as Lady Susan, a recently widowed woman, who starts exploiting her cerebral abilities to secure suitably wealthy husbands for her daughter and ultimately, herself. Written and directed by Whit Stillman, ‘Love & Friendship’ premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and later received a theatrical release on May 13, 2016. The film is adapted from Jane Austen’s short novel ‘Lady Susan’, published in 1871. Beckinsale churns out a matured performance as Lady Susan. Film critic Peter Bradshaw, in his review, praised the film, writing “Love & Friendship is a hilariously self-aware period comedy polished to a brilliant sheen.” The period comedy received immensely positive reviews and has a rating of 97% on Rotten Tomatoes.

5. The Age of Innocence (1993)

Directed by legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese and co-written by Jay Cocks and Scorsese, ‘The Age of Innocence’ is a historical romantic drama which follows Newland Archer, a laywers who falls in love with an unconventional woman, Ellen Olenska, while he is engaged to the woman’s cousin, May Welland. The film stars Daniel Day-Lewis as Newland Archer, Michelle Pfeiffer as Ellen Olenska and Winona Ryder as May Welland. ‘The Age of Innocence’ is not the most popular work of Scorsese, since his directorial style is mostly associated with crime dramas and gangster genre. However, one cannot deny the brilliance of this film. The movie was met with positive reviews at the time of its release, and over the years, has also been considered as one of Scorsese’s best works. It was nominated for a number of honors, namely at the Academy Awards, the Golden Globes and the British Film Academy Awards.

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4. A Royal Affair (2012)

Directed by Nikolaj Arcel and written by Rasmus Heisterberg and Arcel, ‘A Royal Affair’ is set in the 18th century Denmark and the court of the mentally ill King Christian VII and follows the relationship between Caroline Matilda of Great Britain and the royal physician Johann Friedrich Struensee. Starring Mads Mikkelsen as Johann Friedrich Struensee, Alicia Vikander as Caroline Matilda of Great Britain and Mikkel Følsgaard as Christian VII of Denmark, ‘A Royal Affair’ boasts of brilliant performances by the lead actors who execute the narrative vision of the writer with astonishing brilliance. The historical drama premiered at the Berlin Film Festival to positive reviews and won two Silver Bears. With a rating of 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, ‘A Royal Affair’ is move that you must definitely check out.

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3. Dangerous Liaisons (1988)

Adapted from ‘Les liaisons dangereuses’, a play written by British playwright Christopher Hampton, ‘Dangerous Liaisons’ is the story of a conniving widow and her calculating ex-lover who makes a bet regarding the corruption of a recently married woman. A romantic drama, ‘Dangerous Liaisons’ is directed by Stephen Frears and written by Hampton. The film is fueled by the brilliant performances of Glenn Close, John Malkovich and Michelle Pfeiffer, who received immensely positive reviews for their layered takes on their respective characters. The movie holds a rating of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes and was nominated for a couple of awards, even winning a few. However, the critical praise did not help the commercial avenues, as it was considered a massive box office disappointment.

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2. Howards End (1992)

Adapted from English novelist E. M. Forster’s book of the same name, published in 1910, ‘Howards End’ boasts of a stunning cast that includes Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, Vanessa Redgrave, and Helena Bonham Carter. Directed by James Ivory and written by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, the film functions as a romantic drama. It went on to become one of most critically successful ventures of 1992. It won “Best Film” award nominations at the Academy Awards, British Academy Film Awards (where it won) and Golden Globe Awards. The performances were also praised, with Thompson receiving the most acclaim among her co-stars. She swept away the “Best Actress” award at nearly every award ceremony. With a rating of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, this film is one of the best in the genre.

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1. Cyrano de Bergerac (1990)

‘Cyrano de Bergerac’ chronicles the story of Cyrano de Bergerac, a romantic poet who’s in love with his cousin Roxane. However, his love is challenged due to his large nose, as he feels that it is a physical deformity. Fearing Roxane’s rejection, he starts writing letters in the guise of one of his cadets, Christian, who’s also in love with Roxane but like him, doesn’t know how to tell her. Directed by French filmmaker Jean-Paul Rappeneau and co-written by Edmond Rostand, Jean-Claude Carrière and Rappeneau, the narrative is adapted from French poet and dramatist Edmond Rostand’s play of the same name, which was published in 1897. The film is regarded as one of the most faithful adaptations of the classic play.

What makes ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’ such a great piece of work is how all the departments work in collusion to execute an authentic period comedy flick. From the nifty writing and direction to the accurate production design to the mature performances, the film wins in all the facets of filmmaking. With a rating of a perfect 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, this is one of the best films of 1990 and a must watch for any ardent cinephile.

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