Sunday, December 30, 2018

Mary Queen of the Scots

Movie Name: Mary Queen of Scots
Year of Release: 2018
Director: Josie Rourke
Stars: Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie, Jack Lowden, Guy Pearce, Joe Alwyn, Brendan Coyle, Ian Hart, Adrian Lester, Gemma Chan, David Tennant, Simon Russell Beale, Maria Dragus, Eileen O'Higgins, Liah O'Prey, Martin Compston, James McArdle, Ismael Cruz Cordova
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6
View Trailer

Synopsis & Review:
"Mary Queen of Scots" is director Josie Rourke's film debut, and she does so with the adaptation of of the book by John Guy, with a screenplay by Beau Willimon (well known for George Clooney's "The Ides of March" and the show "House of Cards", which has lasted 6 seasons on Netflix). The film follows the story of Mary Stuart, the only daughter of King James V, who was brought up in France, while regents took over the state of Scotland. She married the dauphin of France at 16, and found herself a widow at 18 when he died of complications of having an ear infection that morphed into a brain abscess. Mary who was brought up catholic, returned to Scotland, and took her place as queen, much to the concern of Elizabeth I, queen of England. Mary's goal was to become an heir to the throne of England, since according to some factions, she was the direct descendant of King Henry VIII's sister, whereas Elizabeth, was considered an illegitimate successor (being that she was the daughter of Anne Boylen). Mary eventually falls in love with her cousin, and marries him, baring a son by the name of James. While this occurs, she has to battle her half brother for control of the throne, while also uncovering some painful truths about her husband and her advisors. After her second husband is killed, Mary finds herself in yet another dangerous situation, which leads her to another painful alliance, and a confrontation with Queen Elizabeth.
"Mary Queen of Scots" is a film that has at its core, a fantastically rich historical backdrop to build a narrative about the thirst for power, and the ruthlessness of politics, as it was in the 16th century. On top of it all, it also has the interesting viewpoint of having two strong female points of view, battling for power, in a game rigged by men. It's a film that focuses on the challenges experienced by a young but strong monarch, someone who clearly knew where she wanted to go and above all, who she wanted to be, and a world and a political system that simply wasn't prepared or willing to aide her. The film is richly produced, and features a great central performance from Saoirse Ronan and equally strong supporting turns from Jack Lowden and Ian Hart, but overall it ends up being more illustrative, than captivating. The film lacks a strong point of view, and for a time frame that was so gruesome, cutthroat and violent, it's surprisingly lifeless. The supporting queen, played by Margot Robbie, also feels underdeveloped, particularly when compared with the richness that Shekhar Kapur's "Elizabeth" captured (and Cate Blanchett, so successfully portrayed). It's a perfectly well rendered film, but one that lacks a stronger perspective. The cinematography from John Mathieson is fantastic, as is the score of the stupendous Max Richter. It's a forgettable, yet watchable endeavor.