Better known for end-of-the-world popcorn flicks 2012, The Day After Tomorrow, Godzilla and Independence Day, Roland Emmerich proves there’s more strings to his bow with this highly competent period political thriller. If you can go along with the main conceit – that Shakespeare was an illiterate, drunken buffoon who was putting his name to the Earl of Oxford’s plays – then Anonymous presents a delicious tale of deceit, lust, betrayal and violence. The quasi-gothic setting, gloriously photographed by DP Anna Foerster, compliments the mostly on-song cast, featuring Rhys Ifans as the conflicted Earl of Oxford, Vanessa Redgrave as the tinderbox Queen Elizabeth I and David Thewlis as the malevolent William Cecil. Rafe Spall doesn’t impress as much as the obnoxious Shakespeare, but Aussie boy Xavier Samuel takes another step closer to stardom with his solid work as the Earl of Southampton. An intriguing history-amending yarn that sees 130 minutes fly by.