An exploration of the relationship between Queen Elizabeth I of England and Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary, Queen of Scots review brought to you by AboutFlick’s Mr T.
Director: Josie Rourke
Review: Mary, Queen of Scots has always fascinated Hollywood. It’s no surprise then, that this is the third biopic on her following the ones in 1936 and 1971. If you’ve seen any BBC costume drama or a Keira Knightley period piece, then you probably know what to expect here. The film is well-acted and boasts of lavish set designs and women in fancy wigs and painful corsets.
The film focuses on the relationship between Mary and Queen Elizabeth I of England from 1561 to 1587. Despite being a movie on the Scottish queen, the filmmakers take a very binary approach while framing her character. She is presented as an underdog up against the machinations of men. To appeal to liberal moviegoers, the Catholic queen is portrayed as a ruler tolerant of Protestantism and gender variance. Her reckless behaviour endangering lives of subjects is passed off as empowering. Her agency is never respected, and, in every instance, she is absolved of all guilt rather than being considered as a scheming conspirator.
In real life, Elizabeth I was a formidable queen in her own right who ruled over a kingdom for around 45 years, where a large faction was always conniving to overthrow her. But, in this film, we see an insecure and petulant version of herself, envious of Mary’s beauty and wit, and jealous of her decision to marry and bear children. As if this ridiculous oversimplification wasn’t enough, the movie further descends into soap opera territory, with the cousins warming up to each other based on a shared sentiment of motherhood and sisterhood. Now, I’m aware that neither of the two films starring Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth I was known for their accurate depiction of the relations between Scotland and England, but this is 2018, and we deserve better films than ones glorifying kings and queens.
Now, let’s come to the only reason you should probably watch this film. The acting. Saoirse Ronan has carved out a niche for herself with appearances in films like Brooklyn (2015), Ladybird (2017) and The Seagull (2018), essaying rebellious young women standing up to society. Her performance is praiseworthy, and she does her best, trying to bring the Queen of Scots to life. Guy Pearce, Gemma Chan and David Tennant make perfunctory brief appearances to boost the star presence in the film. The real star of the show is, however, Margot Robbie. For a long time, I’ve only seen her in glamorous roles in movies like The Wolf Of Wall Street (2014), Focus (2015) and Suicide Squad (2016). With recent features like Z For Zachariah (2015), I, Tonya (2017) and of course, Mary, Queen Of Scots, she finally offers a peek into her immense potential as an actor and I’m very excited to see what she does next.
Rating: My rating for Mary, Queen of Scots is 3/5.
Who should watch this: If you like costume dramas like Downton Abbey, you should watch Mary, Queen of Scots. You should also check out Lady Macbeth (2016), The Death Of Stalin (2017), My Cousin Rachel (2017) and The Favourite (2018).