Mary Queen of Scots (2018)
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If you're looking for a historic movie..you're goi g to be a sadly disappointed. Elizabeth and Mary ever actually ever met in their life time, they never laid eyes on each other...they only corresponded through many letters to each other.
Elizabeth was in a constant state of paranoia about Mary taking the throne from her. Her advisers constantly whispering in her ear, putting the idea in her mind about having Mary executed. It was actually never Elizabeth's intention to kill Mary.
Mary actually only came to England once, because she was exiled from Scotland with no where else to go. While in England she would be captured and would remain on house arrest until her execution/beheading.
This movie is a bunch of fictional fluff and not historically accurate to what actually happened in English/British history! Someone failed to do their research before making this movie! Extremely disappointing!!!
Badly miscast: Mary with a strong Irish accent; Margot Robbie in appearance, voice, and acting not convincing as a Queen, the daughter of Henry VIII, or the force of history Elizabeth I was. The screenplay not only departs from the historical record for farcical reasons (Mary's dramatic life and death need little massaging) but introduces anachronisms ranging from gender study issues, to the incongruous casting of minorities in some virtue peddling Oscar Ceremony shoutout.
Adding in, for whatever reason, a prominent but historically impossible gay/cross dressing subplot, thriving in 16th Century, John Knox-ian Holyrood Castle. Hard to follow during long stretches of promise/double cross/dastardly plots a go go/to war or not to war, and when followed intermittently interesting.
I left feeling even more admiration for Shakespeare: his distillation of the complexity and violence of Scottish history in Macbeth, with nary a nod to his or our modern sensitivities of the moment, is, in the context of reviewing this movie, as of comparing Duane Allman's solo in Crossroads, to my awkward, and slow version of Pipeline by the Ventures.
The film takes place during the reign of Mary in Scotland and her cousin Elizabeth in England and Ireland. Both have to deal with the difficulties of ruling their kingdoms, family, power, producing an heir and being at odds with each other despite being family. Things come to a head when both confront each other, which decides the fate of Mary, Queen of Scots. The film is directed by Josie Rourke, who has a history in theater production but decided to come to the silver screen with this film.
The costume design and locations on display in the film look magnificent. Both leading performances by Ronan and Robbie are also fantastic. its always the case with Ronan because she's bee formidable from a young age but Robbie continues to perform extremely well after I, Tonya and shows off some versatility in Mary Queen of Scots. Unfortunately, the film does not hold its weight outside of those features as the script is too dull to excite. There are moments that grasp you only to let you go soon after.
I think the writing lets down a film that had the potential to be a real Oscar contender otherwise. Its a historically interesting story for sure, it just needed better direction to get to a finished product that gives the viewers what they seek. Its decently enjoyable overall but I wanted to really be blown away by this because there seemed to be so much going for it. P.S. I got major Pennywise the Clown vibes from Robbie's Elizabeth near the end haha.
Saoirse Ronan stars as Mary and Margot Robbie is Queen Elizabeth I (daughter of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn). The two were cousins (not sisters), and the film examines many aspects of this era: the struggle for the throne between the two, the unusual circumstances that found two women in power, the behind-the-scenes maneuvering by men in an effort to wrestle power from the women, the importance of marriage and heirs, the conflicts between Catholics and Protestants, and the bizarre arrangement that caused Mary to spend nearly half her life in custody.
Director Josie Rourke is best known for her stage productions, some of which have been broadcast live in cinemas. This is her debut feature film, and her talent is quite obvious. She gets "big" with stunning sweeping vistas, and intimate with dark chamber meetings. The castles look and feel like castles, and not the sound stage sets we often see in costume productions. The film is a thing of beauty and the two lead actresses are sublime ... and with much more screen time, Ms. Ronan delivers a ferocious performance.
The screenplay from Beau Willimon (creator, producer and head writer of "House of Cards") is based on the John Guy book "Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart". This matters because Mr. Guy theorizes that the two sovereigns actually met in real life, something very much doubted by historians. Either way, it makes for an interesting (if not a bit hokey) segment in the film, as Elizabeth and Mary wander through billowing curtains in a clandestine spot.
Beginning at the end, we get an early look at Mary's "martyrdom" march to her execution on 1587 at age 44. If you've ever read about the actual execution, you'll be relieved to know it's not shown on screen. Supporting work comes courtesy of Jack Lowden, Guy Pearce, Joe Alwyn, Gemma Chan, and an explosive David Tennant as a fire-breathing priest. This version plays up the inner-turmoil and challenges in power faced by the women - more so than the 1974 version starring Vanessa Redgrave and Glenda Jackson (the film received 5 Oscar nominations). Ms. Ronan and Ms. Robbie really help us understand the challenges these women faced - challenges that men on the throne wouldn't have faced.
I mean, I knew going in that this was supposed to be one of those re-imagined historical pics, taking creative licence, a lot of it actually, but not this freaking much?!
It tries to be both a live-action play and an historical epic...and ends up being neither.
On the meagre plus side, Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie are good, it's the movie surrounding them that sucked. Also the cinematography is beautiful. And that's it.
Think of "Mary, Queen Of Scotts" as "King Arthur Legend Of The Sword" and the recent "Robin Hood" without the action set pieces...can we please stop making these damn "woke" versions of historical movies and just try to make a good movie instead?!
4 out of 10.