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Posts Tagged ‘Gemma Chan’

Saoirse Ronan as Mary Stuart

“MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS” My rating: B-

124 minutes | MPAA rating:R

The story of Mary Stuart, the Scottish Queen, and her long-running rivalry with England’s Elizabeth I  is one of history’s great dramas. Heck, it even ends in a beheading.

So why do cinematic treatments of the yarn always feel so hidebound and emotionally remote?

In part it may be because the two women never laid eyes on one another. Their stories run on parallel tracks, but there is no intersection.

The new “Mary Queen of Scots,” with which storied stage director Josie Rourke makes her feature film debut, solves that problem (sort of) by inventing a meeting between the two monarchs. This allows two terrific actresses — Saoirse Ronan and Margo Robbie — an opportunity for a bit of hand-to-hand thespian combat.

But it’s not enough to make this big fat slice of history dramatically compelling.

Which is not to say there’s nothing to like here.  The film is filled with spectacular scenery and some of the dankest, dimmest castle interiors in movie history. The costuming is lavish.

And then of course you have these two actresses playing a long-distance game of diplomatic chess with the future of the English monarchy at stake.

The film begins with Mary (Ronan) returning to Scotland after a long sojourn in France, where she had married a prince who promptly died on her. She reclaims her throne from her brother James (Andrew Rothney), who will launch a civil war against her.

Mary poses a real threat to her cousin Elizabeth (Robbie), who is unmarried and indifferent about producing an heir.  Should Elizabeth die childless, the Roman Catholic Mary would inherit the throne of Protestant England.

Let the machinations begin!!!

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