All Is True

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All Is True
All Is True.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byKenneth Branagh
Produced byTamar Thomas
Ted Gagliano
Written byBen Elton
StarringKenneth Branagh
Judi Dench
Ian McKellen
Music byPatrick Doyle[1]
CinematographyZac Nicholson
Edited byÚna Ní Dhonghaíle
Distributed bySony Pictures Classics[2]
Release date
  • 21 December 2018 (2018-12-21) (United States)
Running time
101 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office$1.3 million[4]

All Is True is a 2018 British fictional historical film directed by Kenneth Branagh, written by Ben Elton.[5] It stars Branagh as playwright William Shakespeare. The film takes its title from an alternative name for Shakespeare's play Henry VIII.


After the Globe Theatre burns down in 1613 during a performance of Shakespeare's play Henry VIII, William Shakespeare, aged 49, returns home to Stratford[6] to rejoin his wife, Anne Hathaway. Shakespeare and Anne have a distant relationship, as he has spent most of their marriage working in London, and she is a down-to-earth country woman who cannot write. Their marriage has never recovered from the death of their son Hamnet, aged 11, in a plague outbreak in Stratford while his father was in London. Although they also have two daughters, Shakespeare regarded Hamnet as his favorite child, especially because of the poems which the child wrote before his death. Shakespeare devotes his time to tending to the family garden, although in spite of his hard work he is not very successful.

The Shakespeares' eldest daughter Susanna is married to a doctor named John Hall, who is a prominent Puritan in town. Susanna is forced to stifle her independence and her own personality to live by her husband's moral codes. Susanna is falsely accused of committing adultery, and faces a public trial. Shakespeare manages to terrify her accuser by claiming that he knows an African actor who was once in love with Susanna, and the actor would kill anyone who ruined her good name. As a result, the accuser recants his testimony and Susanna is found innocent. Anne is impressed by her husband's actions, especially as she knows that he was lying: the African actor was a gentle person who would never harm anyone.

Shakespeare's youngest daughter, Judith (Hamnet's twin), is outspoken in her doubts about the role of women in Jacobean England. She has not been allowed to have an education or opportunities in life, because it is expected she will marry and provide children. As a result, Judith has refused to marry, and is bitter at her father for not loving her as much as her dead brother. One night during an argument, Judith confesses to Shakespeare that she actually wrote the poems, not her brother. They were written in Hamnet's handwriting because Judith is illiterate, and thus had to dictate them to her brother. Anne agrees that Hamnet was not especially intelligent, and that they have hidden this from Shakespeare so he would be able to keep his fond memories.

The Shakespeares receive a visit from the Earl of Southampton, Shakespeare's former literary patron, to whom he wrote his 154 sonnets. This upsets Anne; she is aware of rumors that her husband and Southampton were lovers. While drinking with Southampton, Shakespeare recites his Sonnet 29, expressing his feelings for Southampton and hoping that Southampton felt the same way about him. Southampton cuts off the conversation, and seems uncomfortable, but as he leaves he also recites Sonnet 29, indicating to Shakespeare that he did have feelings for him.

After some time at home, Shakespeare and Anne grow closer and develop a mature relationship. Anne ultimately allows her husband to sleep with her in the family's second-best bed (the best bed is reserved for guests). Having fallen back in love with Anne, Shakespeare amends his last will and testament to make sure that she will receive this bed. Now that the truth has been told about the poems, Judith also develops a warmer relationship with her father. She agrees to marry a local man, Thomas Quiney, who has been her suitor for some time. However Quiney's reputation is damaged when his former sweetheart gives birth to his illegitimate child, and the baby dies during labor. Judith becomes pregnant to Quiney, much to Shakespeare's delight.

While researching, Shakespeare discovers that there was no notable plague outbreak in 1596, the year that Hamnet died. He becomes suspicious and questions his family. Anne tries to convince him that Hamnet died of plague, but Judith confesses the truth. One day as a child, Judith told her brother that she was going to reveal the truth to their father, that Hamnet did not write the poems. That night, Hamnet went missing. He was found in a nearby lake, having drowned, with the copies of the poems in the water with him. Hamnet never went in the lake, and so Anne and Judith suspect he committed suicide. The women covered it up, and told everyone that the boy had died of plague. Although it is an emotional revelation, the truth allows Shakespeare to finally come to terms with his son's death, and to accept a more honest memory of the boy.

In April 1616, Shakespeare's fellow playwright Ben Jonson visits him and they reminisce about their lives. On the 23rd of April, Shakespeare's fifty-second birthday, he is feeling unwell. His wife and daughters gather to present him with a surprise. Susanna has been teaching Anne and Judith how to read and write. Susanna has found the Shakespeares' marriage certificate, and Anne finally signs her name, where previously she had only been able to sign with an "X".

Shakespeare dies that day. At his funeral, the three women recite the song "Fear No More" from Shakespeare's play Cymbeline. They are now all able to read.



It was announced on 30 October 2018 that Sony Pictures Classics would distribute the film, which Kenneth Branagh had already filmed without publicity, directing and starring alongside Judi Dench and Ian McKellen.[7][8]

Dorney Court, a grade I listed Tudor manor house in Buckinghamshire, was a filming location.[9]


The film was given a limited release in the US at the Laemmle Monica Film Center in Santa Monica from 21 to 27 December 2018,[10][11] to qualify it for that year's Academy Awards.[7] It screened as the Opening Night Gala feature at the Palm Springs Film Festival[12] on 4 January 2019.[13] It was released in the UK on 8 February 2019.[14] It had a limited re-release in Los Angeles and New York in May 2019, followed by a wider US release.[15]


Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 72% based on 135 reviews, with an average rating of 6.56/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "Impressively cast and beautifully filmed, All Is True takes an elegiac look at Shakespeare's final days."[16] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 59 out of 100, based on 32 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Patrick Doyle Scoring Kenneth Branagh's 'All Is True' - Film Music Reporter". Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  2. ^ "Kenneth Branagh's 'All Is True' lands at SPC". Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  3. ^ "Sony Pictures Classics Picks Up Kenneth Branagh's 'All Is True'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  4. ^ "All Is True (2019) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  5. ^ Hipes, Patrick (30 October 2018). "Kenneth Branagh's Shakespeare Movie 'All Is True' Acquired By Sony Classics". Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  6. ^ McNary, Dave (30 October 2018). "Sony Classics Buys Kenneth Branagh's Shakespeare Drama 'All Is True'". Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  7. ^ a b "Kenneth Branagh's William Shakespeare Movie Lands at Sony Classics". 30 October 2018. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  8. ^ Shoard, Catherine (1 November 2018). "Kenneth Branagh and Judi Dench to star as Shakespeare and wife in Oscar-tipped film". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  9. ^ "Film Listings". Dorney Court. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  10. ^ for iPhone, Twitter (21 December 2018). "All Is True is now playing at the Laemmle Monica Film Center until Dec. 27th. Get your tickets! #allistrue". Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  11. ^ (NO LONGER PLAYING) All is True, accessed 3 November 2019
  12. ^ McNary, Dave (14 December 2018). "Kenneth Branagh's 'All Is True' Opening Palm Springs Film Festival". Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  13. ^ "Film Schedule | Palm Springs International Film Festival". Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  14. ^, @allistruemovie (10 February 2019). " - All Is True: Cinema Screenings & Ticket Booking - The Official Showtimes Destination". Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  15. ^ "All Is True || A Sony Pictures Classics Release". All Is True || A Sony Pictures Classics Release. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  16. ^ "All Is True (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 3 May 2020.
  17. ^ "All Is True Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 3 May 2020.

External links[edit]