Kenneth Branagh, the great Shakespearean actor-director of the late 20th and early 21st Century now comes full-circle in playing the Bard himself in this film. In true Shakespearean tradition it's a dramatic interpretation of Shakespeare's last years with the dramatic license fittingly lampshaded by Shakespeare in the film. The story focuses on Shakespeare returning to Stratford after the fire that consumed the Globe Theatre. His family are estranged for him and he is also forced to at last confront the death of his son Hamnet.
- Actually Pretty Funny: Judith thinks it's hilarious that the daughter of the greatest playwright is married to a Puritan who hates art.
- Arc Words: "You must write again."
- Aww They Really Love Each Other: Anne and Will are not on the best of terms and she is aware of his flirtations with the "Dark Lady" and "Fair Youth", but she eventually welcomes him back to their bedchamber.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Shakespeare justifies himself for his estrangement by saying that he's made his family wealthy and that they had three wonderful children.
- Mythology Gag: "The Second Best Bed" is not only referenced but a plot point for Anne and Will's relationship. Will's decision to reference it in his will is now a heartwarming gesture of love.
- Survivor's Guilt: Judith has a mixture of this and perception that she is The Unfavorite and that Shakespeare would have preferred she died to Hamnet.