Also of note is Ben Affleck's performance as Ned Alleyn. He is, at best, the fifth male lead behind Fiennes, Firth, Rush, and Tom Wilkinson, and some of the best nudge-nudge jokes in the film are directed towards his character's willingness to take a backseat in Shakespeare's current play.
There is, in fact, a whole lot of good that can be said of Shakespeare in Love – it is wise, witty, and incredibly charming. It is one of those romantic comedies that make one believe that the genre isn't solely littered with low brow, forgettable films. Shakespeare in Love is filled with gorgeous costumes, great sets, and a game cast; it just never takes this plethora of great elements and manages to convince one that it is a great movie.
The new Blu-ray release of the film is, much like the film itself, absolutely gorgeous to see and hear. Colors pop off the screen in the film, and the textures and subtle designs on the costumes are clearly visible (and make it clear why they won an Oscar). There is nary a scratch nor bit of dirt to be seen, and the black levels are good as well. The Master Audio DTS-HD 5.1 soundtrack helps Shakespearian England come alive with the sounds of crowds and the theater all around. The Oscar-winning score is fully realized, too. It is a beautifully clean and clear track and serves the movie very well.
The film comes to Blu-ray with two audio commentary tracks, the first with Madden and the second with members of the cast and crew. Deleted scenes, trailers, and a brief piece on the costumes are also present. The only special feature of any length present on the release is an overly polished discussion of the film and its production using clips and talking heads. The work has the feel of a standard produced-for-television-as-an-extended-commercial feel.
Shakespeare in Love is a thoroughly enjoyable romantic comedy. Where the film has a tendency to fall short though is in its over-used breaking of the fourth wall to wink at the audience. To be sure, some of these efforts succeed, but for every one that hits more than one misses and eventually they just become rather tiring. These instances don't ruin the film by any stretch of the imagination, but they do tend to temper one's enthusiasm.