Wednesday, October 23, 2019
Movie Reviews

Posted at: Feb 1, 2019, 5:16 PM; last updated: Feb 1, 2019, 5:16 PM (IST)MOVIE REVIEW - MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS

A fairly intriguing Queens’ gambit


Film: Mary Queen Of Scots

  • Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie, Jack Lowden, Joe Alwyn, Gemma Chan, Martin Compston, Ismael Cordova, Brendan Coyle, Ian Hart, Adrian Lester, James McArdle, David Tennant, Guy Pearce, Maria-Victoria Dragus, Eileen O'Higgins, Liah O'prey, Andrew Rothney
  • Director: Josie Rourke
A fairly intriguing Queens’ gambit
Mary Queen Of Scots

Johnson Thomas

Another historical that details the fractious relationship between the two neighbouring nations, i.e. England and Scotland, this costume drama is concentrated around how Mary, Queen of Scots, came to be beheaded. 

The film begins and ends with the Queen’s epochal date with the headman’s axe and takes us much deeper into the Game of Thrones that had Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary, cousins by birth, getting entangled in court intrigue fuelled by the distrust between the respective Protestant and Catholic groups the Queens were intrinsically allied with, way back in the 16th century. The narrative finds space between the events depicted in Cate Blanchett’s second outing as Queen Elizabeth in the Shekhar Kapur directed version, concentrating largely on the power tussle that ensued following Mary’s return to Scotland following the death of her first husband, the King of France.

While the narrative may not faithfully follow the official records, it does use John Guy’s biography sporadically in its efforts to put forward ideas that were disputed by the traditionalists. The first half cuts away from the beheading to establish Mary Stuart’s (Soarise Ronan) justification for her return to her roots and staking of claim to the throne of England. The film gives us a broad idea of both the Queens’ individual psyches and political positions thereof. Unfortunately there’s not much clarity or logic in the decisions that put Mary’s life at risk from the word go. As the narrative progresses, it becomes harder to imagine why Mary would put in jeopardy her own life while pitting herself against forces that are greater than even she can overcome. The confusion continues to plague and eventually, despite a tighter more sewed in second half, fails to enthuse in entirety.

Just when we are ready to buy into some sympathy for Mary’s cause, the narrative betrays the momentum by putting forward Elizabeth’s point of view. In a scene that seems more imaginary than real we see the two Queens meeting at a secret rendezvous, beguiling us with a rather inconclusive discussion on decisions that seal their individual fates. The shift destroys the affect gained thus far and the narrative gets topsy-turvy trying to empathise with contrarian positions and criminal intent. While the writing and helming appears a bit shaky, there’s no taking away from the intense performances of the two leads, the fantastic costuming and make-up and the period authenticity of the production. The film rightfully deserved the two nods for costume and make-up and could have done with two more for the finely drawn lead performances!


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