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Waste of Shame, A (DVD Review)

25 May, 2010 By: Angelique Flores

Street 6/1/10
$24.98 DVD
Not rated.
Stars Rupert Graves, Indira Varma, Tom Sturridge.

The title of this BBC America drama is taken from William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 129, which laments how lust leads one down a road to madness and hell. This film offers a possible story about Shakespeare’s own lust and his inspiration for writing his famous 154 sonnets.

In 126 of Shakespeare’s sonnets, he addresses a “fair youth” and in 26 a “dark lady.” As some historians speculate, this “fair youth” was William Herbert, the son of an earl.

In the film, Shakespeare (Rupert Graves) is torn between his unspoken love for young Will (Tom Sturridge of Pirate Radio) and his lustful relationship with “dark lady” Lucie (Indira Varma of “Rome”), a half-Moor prostitute from France. Both Sturridge and Varma are equally alluring and sexy enough to understandably drive anyone mad.

The bard goes back and forth between following around the young man and the lovely Lucie. Meanwhile, the film is careful not to forget that Shakespeare still has a wife and three children in Stratford-upon-Avon, whom he neglects.

As in the poems, the fair youth falls for the charms of the dark lady, which puts the love affairs to an end.

Neither of these “love” affairs are very happy or satisfying for Shakespeare, but the realism adds a depth to the character and these stories. It’s easy to sympathize with this tortured soul and his anguish, as the audience watches these doomed relationships along with his strained marriage and his struggles as a playwright, not to mention the plague the writer watched eradicate the people around him.

A Waste of Shame is a beautifully dark movie with elaborate costumes that puts a delightful spin on what could have happened, sticking to likely scenarios based on historical speculation as well as straight from Shakespeare himself, through his own sonnets. In between scenes, lines from the poems that pertain to what has just occurred flash across the screen or are narrated by Graves over the action, both reminding the audience that these trials of lust and love inspired these famous and celebrated words.

For those who enjoy Shakespeare, historical dramas or period pieces, this is definitely worth watching.

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