Shakespeare in Love fancifully retells the creation and premiere of Romeo and Juliet. It peoples the London of 1593 with the usual suspects--Christopher Marlowe (crafty Rupert Everett), Queen Elizabeth (Judi Dench, a sly dominatrix)--and some ageless show-biz types: the poverty-pleading producer (Geoffrey Rush), the backer with a lust for limelight (Tom Wilkinson). Director John Madden works in jokes about profit sharing and credit hogging, and a climax in which the real star steps in for an indisposed leading lady.
But the true, rare glamour of the piece is its revival of two precious movie tropes: the flourishing of words for their majesty and fun, and--in the love play between Fiennes and his enchantress--the kindling of a playfully adult eroticism. Let the kids toy with their Rugrats and hold their Sandler high. Shakespeare in Love is a movie to please the rest of us, parched for a game of dueling, reeling romance.