"All Is True" is a portrait of William Shakespeare during the last three years of his life, as he leaves London and returns to his family in Stratford-upon-Avon. The film follows Shakespeare as he strives to bridge the distance between himself and his wife and two daughters, recover from the loss of his son, and come to terms with his legacy as an artist.
In 1613, after a devastating fire destroys the Globe Theatre during the first production of Shakespeare’s play “All is True” (“Life of Henry VIII”), a distraught Shakespeare (Kenneth Branagh) returns to Stratford. As he saw his family infrequently during his two decades working in London, his wife Anne (Judi Dench) and daughters Judith (Kathryn Wilder) and Susanna (Lydia Wilson) are surprised, but hardly pleased, to hear he now intends to stay in Stratford. Shakespeare, who is haunted by the death at age 11 of Judith’s twin brother Hamnet (Sam Ellis), attempts to ease his grief by planting a memorial garden for his son.
As the film progresses, the simmering tensions in the family that have been contained during Shakespeare’s absence, gradually surface. Anne, who felt humiliated by her husband’s public display of affection in his sonnets, is not pleased when the man who may have inspired them, and to whom they are extravagantly dedicated, the Earl of Southampton (Ian McKellen), comes to pay a visit. Judith resents what she feels is her father’s strong emotional preference for her dead twin Hamnet over her, and her anger is only magnified by the guilt she feels as the surviving twin. Shakespeare’s relationship with his elder daughter Susanna is more cordial, but the relationship is upset when she is accused of being unfaithful to her husband, which leads to a very public trial. As the son of a once prestigious local man who fell into disgrace, Shakespeare is particularly threatened by Susanna’s scandal, as he prizes the elevated social standing in Stratford he has worked so long to achieve. He also has lingering questions about the circumstances surrounding his son’s death and is driven to find answers.