Kenneth Branagh goes from adapting William Shakespeare's work to playing the Bard himself in the trailer for his latest film, All is True. The movie, which Branagh also directed, gets its title from the alternate name for Shakespeare's play Henry VIII.
Branagh, of course, has been adapting Shakespeare's plays to the big screen for nearly three decades, going back to 1989's Henry V (which he also starred in as King Henry V). The actor/filmmaker's Shakespearean adaptations have also varied widely in style and tone, ranging from more conventional takes on Much Ado About Nothing to films like Love's Labour's Lost (which reimagines its source material as a 1930s Hollywood musical) and As You Like It, a retelling that teleports the Bard's romantic comedy to a European colony in 19th century Japan. All is True, however, marks a change of pace in the sense that it's the first movie that Branagh's directed about Shakespeare the man.
Written by playwright/filmmaker Ben Elton, All is True picks up with Branagh's Shakespeare in the year 1613, at which point he's been acknowledged as "the greatest writer of the age" by pretty much everyone. However, when his prized Globe Theatre burns down, the Bard returns to Stratford in an attempt to make amends with his long-neglected family, including his wife Anne Hathaway (Judi Dench)... and no, of course, not that Anne Hathaway. In doing so, Shakespeare is forced to confront the pain of his past, including the death of his son Hamnet and "his own failings as a husband and father". For more on that, watch the All is True trailer in the space below.
Judging by its trailer, All is True is a Shakespeare in Love-style take on the Bard's life, in the sense that it's a piece of historical fiction that focuses more on exploring what Shakespeare represents than being a nothing-but-the-facts biography about the man (which would be near-impossible to make anyway). Clearly, the film also serves as a capstone to Branagh's own career of bringing Shakespeare's plays to the big screen... which isn't to say he'll definitely stop adapting the Bard's stories after this film, either.
The All is True cast also includes Ian McKellen as Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton, and features an accomplished creative team that, in addition to Branagh and Elton, includes Branagh's longtime composer Patrick Doyle and production designer James Merifield (who also worked on this year's Mary Queen of Scots). Sony is releasing the drama later this month, which will allow it to both qualify for next year's awards ceremonies and serve as counter-programming to the big December tentpoles like Mary Poppins Returns and Aquaman. Suffice it to say, fans of Branagh's Shakespeare adaptations - and his work in general - will certainly want to give this one a look, at some point.
All is True begins a limited U.S. theatrical release on Friday, December 21.
Source: Sony Pictures Classics