When the Globe theatre burns to the ground in a fire in 1613, a shattered William Shakespeare (Kenneth Branagh, who also directed) returns home to Stratford where he will live out the remainder of his life without ever writing another play. Clearly a labor of love for Branagh, the film was greenlit in early 2018, quickly cast, filmed in 30 days and rushed out for a December 21st release in Los Angeles for one week only to qualify for the 2018 Oscars. It opens elsewhere in early 2019. Branagh told the audience I was in that we were literally only the third audience to have seen the completed film. Fortunately the film doesn't look or feel like a rush job, far from it. It's an intelligent and engrossing look at Shakespeare's last years and quite lively it is, too. Don't expect one of those tasteful and stuffy Masterpiece Theatre productions, this one breathes. Branagh's physical transformation is remarkable and his make up is seamless (there's nothing worse than obvious make up and a bad wig to mar a performance). Branagh is matched by Judi Dench who brings a potent gravitas to her Anne Hathaway Shakespeare, so much so that you can see what attracted such a woman to The Bard. Shakespeare buffs should be most pleased with this one! With Ian McKellen, Kathryn Wilder and Lydia Wilson.