Or, “Shakespeare in Drag.” Adapted from Jeffrey Hatcher's play Compleat Female Stage Beauty, this is set during the English Restoration, when Charles II lifted the ban on women actors and men who specialized in female roles suddenly found themselves obsolete. Billy Crudup stars as one of these unfortunates, a vain homosexual who's spent years mastering a highly stylized femininity but loses his role as Desdemona in Othello to Claire Danes, his former dresser. The movie's sexual politics couldn't be more regressive—Crudup learns to be a man in the sack as well as on the boards—but it's still a competent middlebrow costume drama. Richard Eyre directed; with Tom Wilkinson, Rupert Everett as the king, and Hugh Bonneville as Samuel Pepys, whose diaries inspired the Hatcher play. R, 110 min.
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