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Mary, Queen of Scots – 3 out of 5 (Film 5 of 2019)

I’m giving Mary, Queen of Scots 3 out of 5 stars.  It’s my 5th film in the cinema for 2019 and the 2nd directed by a woman – Josie Rourke, a theatre director making her film debut.

The film is beautifully shot. Margot Robbie is magnificent. The costuming and makeup are excellent. But I think the writing is weak and that Saoirse Ronan just isn’t quite up to the role – she didn’t seem forceful enough, maybe. I’ve liked her in other things and I’m not faulting her acting. My criticism is more around the casting or, perhaps, the directing.

I was pleased when David Tennant showed up in an early scene but felt like his talents were wasted on a a one-dimensional religious leader stirring opposition to Mary. The role left no space for the sparkle of charisma and humour he’s so good with.

I felt like they were trying to cover a lot of history – which I found a bit hard to keep up with given my utter ignorance of the period. But even in my ignorance I was sure they were taking liberties – I doubt much (in anything) is known of the sexual habits and preferences of these Queens and I rather doubt their courts were as racially diverse as shown here.

In comparison, The Favourite (set in the court of Queen Anne) clearly isn’t pretending at an accurate historical presentation but, instead, places a compelling story into an historical context. Mary Queen of Scots kind of misses the mark at both ends – not believable as a biopic while also lacking a super engaging story at its centre.

Nice try but falls short of the mark.

The synopsis from Dendy:

Bow to No One

Mary Stuart attempts to overthrow her cousin Elizabeth I, Queen of England, only to find herself condemned to years of imprisonment before facing execution.

Seen at Dendy Newtown on 21 January 2019

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