Isn’t a movie that fans the flames of the old “William Shakespeare didn’t really write all those plays” controversy a kind of literary birther flick, in a sense? Roland Emmerich‘s currently rolling Anonymous, which alleges that Edward De Vere (Rhys Ifans) was the actual author, strikes me as such.

Team Anonymous on the muddy Elizabethan set: (l. to r.) Mark Rylance, screenwriter John Orlov, Vanessa Redgrave, Roland Emmerich, Joely Richardson, Rafe Spall, David Thewlis, Rhys Ifans.

Pic is nonethless being called a “political thriller.” A friend who’s read John Orloff‘s screenplay says “this is the best screenplay I have read in ten years. It is clean and frightening and elegant — a kind of All The President’s Men set during the time of William Shakespeare. It’s a mind bender and very convincing. If it was not Emmerich but, say, Michael Mann or Ridley Scott directing we would already be engraving the Oscar — it’s that good. Luckily, Roland has brilliant actors pretty perfectly cast.”

What a curious side trip for Emmerich, given his usual wont.

The costars include Rafe Spall (Shakespeare), Vanessa Redgrave (Queen Elizabeth), Joely Richardson (Young Elizabeth), David Thewlis (William Cecil), Xavier Samuel (Southampton) and Mark Rylance (Gloucester, a Globe actor).