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Wednesday, 09 January 2019 13:51

Royal rumble – ‘Mary Queen of Scots’

There are few things that grab the attention of film award voters quite like royalty. They LOVE prestige fare about kings and queens; can’t get enough of it. Crowns and capes and thrones, palace intrigue and clanging swords and righteous rhetoric. These movies are almost always good, but to be better they need … something.

Maybe it’s a killer cast. Maybe it’s a filmmaker with a unique, unconventional perspective. Maybe it’s particularly compelling source material.

Or maybe, like with “Mary Queen of Scots,” it’s all three at once.

You’ve got two of Hollywood’s most talented young actresses leading the way in Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie, with four Oscar nominations between them. You’ve got a director in Josie Rourke who has never directed a film before but has extensive and acclaimed experience as a stage director of work both classic and contemporary. And you’ve got the story of the titular queen’s life as adapted from John Guy’s pioneering biography “Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart.”

And yet … it never manages to quite get over the top. While the performances from both Ronan and Robbie are outstanding and the look and tone of the film are suitably epic in scope and scale, the narrative is a bit overstuffed and lacking in specificity. Too often, things happen because they’re simply next on the list, rather than with any sort of agency or urgency behind them, which leads to more story-borne borderline-soapy melodrama than you might hope for in a film like this.

Published in Movies
Sunday, 03 September 2017 11:15

Dim bulb - ‘Tulip Fever’

Historical drama tonally jarring, nonsensically plotted

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 26 April 2017 12:25

‘The Promise’ not quite kept

Historical drama falls short of lofty ambition

Published in Movies
Sunday, 04 September 2016 17:23

'The Light Between Oceans' shines

Historical romance tugs hard at the heartstrings

Having our heartstrings tugged is one of the reasons that we go to the movies. Finding those moments of emotional connection can be a huge part of the cinematic experience. However, if a film goes to that well too often if it tries too hard to get us to feel it can come off as a little disingenuous and/or manipulative.

Published in Movies

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