The Other Boleyn Girl (2008) Poster

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Eh... Nice costumes and sets
dollparts12155 March 2008
If you want a good movie about Henry VIII and Anne Bolyen, rent Anne of the Thousand Days. That was a film that used history to tell a story about real people who had a love to change a nation.

In this version of the eponymous Phillipa Gregory novel, historical inaccuracies abound. Approximately fifteen years are compressed into two hours with no indication time has gone by except for various babies. None of the characters ever change or grow any older. The characters in this movie are completely one-sided. Anne is ambitious. Henry is a womanizer. Mary is simple. No one has any complexities. The sisterly rivalry plays out like an underdeveloped soap opera.

On the other hand, the film is engaging and the costumes lovely. Same with the gorgeous palace settings.

Eye candy it is. Truthful or realistic it isn't.
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Outrageously Inaccurate
venessalewis29 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
The "Other Boleyn Girl" hit theaters today, and of course, I was in for the first showing. I've been anticipating this movie for over 2 years now, ever since I first heard it was in production.

Why can't directors seem to get it right when it comes to this time period?I understand completely the Hollywood concept of "dramatic" flair for the big screen. But there is a difference between "dramatic flair" and complete revisionist history. This movie makes the HBO series, "The Tudors" seem like a BBC documentary as far as factual information is concerned.

Now, the director is not all to blame. Phillippa Gregory does a damn good job of distorting the truth in this alternate interpretation of the story of Anne Boleyn. Her portrayal of Anne as ruthlessly ambitious and downright devilish is at odds with the softer portrayals favored by Jean Plaidy and other authors of this period. Anne's own diaries would suggest her true personality to be more of the unwilling victim and royal pawn in the schemes cooked up by her ambitious male relatives. Only when she discovered that her path in life would be to submit or face death or exile does she succumb to Henry's advances.

The opening scenes of the movie concern how Anne and Henry met. Well, there is debate on this, the movie selects Hever. I'll allow that. But this first it was most certainly not in front of the whole court and followed by a hunt in which Henry takes a tumble, to be nursed back to health by Mary, Anne's OLDER sister (the movie and book portrays her as the younger sister-this is false). Anne's ambitions are apparent from this very day, she indeed seems to find her father and uncle's schemes appealing and agrees to "hunt" his majesty. Hardly the case in reality. Anne was in love with and betrothed to Henry Percy at the time of her first meeting with Henry. The movie has it backwards. She does not "settle" for Percy only after Mary has "stolen" Henry. Another extremely annoying point of order here….Cardinal Wolsey is completely absent from this film. This is such a blaring error as to render the movie completely abominable. Wolsey is such a force in the entire drama, from the arrangement of the marriage AND the divorce, to all matters of state and religion in between…to leave him out is both amateur and foolish, not to mention a missed opportunity for much needed plot thickening.

Running through the laundry list of other inaccuracies….Anne was not EXILED to France because she fumbled her attempt to seduce Henry. This is utterly ridiculous. It is well known that both Anne and Mary practically grew up in the French court from the time they were 12 to their late teens. Only then did the sisters join the English court, much less begin their dramas with the king. And she was not brought back to entertain Henry whilst Mary lay in with his child. Again…Anne most strongly wanted to marry her first love, Henry Percy, Duke of Northumberland. But once Henry had set his eyes upon her and chose to make her his own, then and only then were her uncle and father's schemes put into motion. Their original intentions were to milk the long-going affair of her sister Mary for all it was worth.

Now, as for the "incest" theory. Gregory is taking a huge risk here by suggesting that the allegation levied upon Anne and her brother George was indeed founded in truth, borne out of Anne's desperation to get with child after her miscarriage. I do believe Anne was desperate to get pregnant quickly, and she was very close to her brother…but this is a huge leap, and one true historians would never make. It also suggest that something other than Henry's brute desires were at play here when he charged them with treason, which is not the case. He simply wanted to be rid of Anne, to beget a male heir off of his next mistress.

And good gracious…what of the rape scene? Not only is this disturbing, but so far fetched. Although Anne resisted for years, when she finally gave in to Henry, she did believe herself to be in love with him…or at the very least, resigned to accept her fate. And Henry was completely besotted with her….why else would he break from Rome, Catholicism and risk his kingdom for anything less? No, he would not have raped Anne for their first sexual encounter. He was a brute, but he was most concerned of his image of the romantic courtier when it came to women's affections.

Finally, a note on the characters. Portman does an acceptable job portraying the character from the book…even though this character is not the true Anne Boleyn. Johannson makes a lovely Mary…and probably quite close to the real woman. As for Bana…a sore disappointment. Bad casting, bad acting. Is this the same Bana of the acclaimed Munich and Troy? Where was the range? He comes across as flat and not well studied. Jonathon Rhys Meyers of the HBO Tudors blows him out of the water on all levels….sensuality, intensity and evil as Henry the 8th.

Why can't I just watch these movies and leave feeling entertained? I don't quite know…I care too much about 15th century England for some reason. It became hardwired in me after watching Anne of the Thousand Days as a young girl. No Tudor movie since then has gotten close in accuracy or sheer entertainment since then. Burton and Bujold are classic and untouchable. But after watching this hack job, I have to say I am looking forward to the new season of the Tudors on HBO.
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Sometimes the Truth is Stranger Than Fiction
Lauren Hutchison16 March 2008
A quick glimpse at the Tudor family line on Wikipedia will yield hundreds of years of made-for-movie material, but none quite as compelling as the story of Anne Boleyn. Pair a classic story with airy language, beautiful sets and costumes, and some A-list names and you have Oscar magic in the making. Right? Well, not always. We've seen it before and we're not necessarily impressed with royalty anymore. The Other Boleyn Girl offers new perspectives and dramatic angles on the saga of wives that is Henry VIII's legacy, but nearly drowns in melodrama.

And it's not entirely the movie's fault. Boleyn Girl follows the story of both Anne (Natalie Portman) and Mary (Scarlett Johansson) Boleyn and their relationship with the English court. King Henry VIII (Eric Bana) has trouble producing a male heir, so the Boleyn family offers their daughter Anne to bed. When Henry has a hunting accident due to Anne's carelessness, he is nursed and subsequently charmed by innocent Mary. But Mary is already married, so the King promotes her husband and sends the couple to court where he can meet with Mary whenever he pleases. Mary falls in love with Henry and becomes his mistress. Anne, the elder sister, is scorned by what she believes is her sister's ultimate betrayal, and plots revenge. The two continue on in these roles for some time, swapping places in bed with Henry and spurting out babies while their relatives egg them on. This isn't quite how things went down in reality, but the changes are minor and seem necessary to condense the timeline and create at least one sympathetic character.

The Other Boleyn Girl fares best when it's exploring the relationship between Anne and Mary. This isn't the first story of sister rivalry, but the dynamic between Anne and Mary is extraordinarily well-played. Their previous roles and their public images make Portman and Johansson perfect fits. We believe Portman to be intelligent and coy, and Johansson to be naive and desired. More - we believe these roles might be easily reversed. As sisters, their relationship is deeply disturbing: they love each other, they hate each other, they're unable to escape the expectations placed upon them by their family. As an older sister (with an admittedly not-as-screwed-up relationship), I found this portrayal very realistic - rich with emotion and complex meaning.

I wish I could say the rest of the movie was as artful. There's constant allusion and foreshadowing to the Boleyn demise through use of visual and editing metaphors. If some details were twisted, other details might have been cut out - too many tear-filled scenes means that this eventually feels like a soap opera. At one point in the movie, Anne is sent off to France and comes back wearing a very distracting "B" charm, which she sports until the end of the movie. When I finally finished inventing what else "B" might stand for (besides Boleyn, there are plenty of other fits), I wondered about Anne's character. She's now praised as being changed and thus back in play, but I don't see it - she was smart and ambitious before, and only gained a bit of wit during her trip to France - certainly not the drastic change everyone seemed to be making it out to be. There are some very poorly done scenes where supporting cast spell out the politics of the situation for you. This is a little condescending and probably unnecessary, if not repetitive. The costumes are beautiful, but the matching dresses become unbelievable and even plain in places. PETA must have a field day with this movie and its use of fur and meat. You won't get to see Scarlett Johansson naked in this movie, in case you were wondering - just lots of fuzzy sex montages, weirdly full of backlit hair and fur. Katherine of Aragon (Henry VIII's first wife) is given some of the most powerful lines in the movie, but they're delivered with such woodenness that my disappointment must be made known.

The Other Boleyn Girl could be so much more. As a hyper-dramatic costume flick, it does stand out. There's more than meets your eye, and the costarring performances are not to be missed. There's a lot of material to cover in this story, but a simplified script would have helped keep this film farther away from melodrama. Especially with a true story as wild as this, there's not a lot that needs to be changed or added to grip the viewer. Any embellishments verge on destroying believability and creating situations we can't relate to.
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Mary is forever doomed to be "The Other Boelyn Girl"
YoSafBridge3 March 2008
All and all, not a particularly enjoyable film.

This movie sacrifices all that was interesting about the novel in the first place just to squeeze in all the historical aspects. All of the page turning scenes in the book that would have been interesting to see translated to screen (Anne's bloodstained dress, the deformed child, the courtship between Mary and William) were cut.

Fortuanatly, I expected that. With such a long book, I had to expect most of my favourite scenes were going to get the axe.

What I didn't expect was for the narration to change from that of Mary (aka. "The Other Boelyn Girl" for which the book was named) to yet another story about Anne Boelyn. The film started off well, if rather slow, with the story being told from Mary, but it quickly changes gears as the audience is suddenly following Anne's courtship of Henry and Anne's trials, emotions and desperation. Mary is quickly delegated to little more then a secondary role, with many key moments happening while she isn't on screen.

The story of Anne was told well, she was portrayed brilliantly by Portman, and had several fun and emotional moments. But that's just the problem, I've seen that all before. There have been dozens of films, series, and books written from Anne's point of view. If I wanted to see a story about Anne, I would have watched Anne of the Thousand Days or maybe "The Tudors" HBO series. What made this story special was it told the story behind Anne and Henry (and it was mostly fictional which added to the drama).

Unfortunately the movie ignored this, and thus failed to create the same reaction I had towards the book.

Another problem is that of characterisation, I expected that the movie would make the two sisters friends as it creates more drama towards the end as opposed to them being not particularly close like in the book. Same with the enormous changes they made in the personalities of the parents (and honestly, almost every character)I expected it. Many of the characters in the movie were actually more two-dimensional then the callous characters from the book. It wasn't as though this movie was badly acted or was just bad.

The person I was most disappointed about was George (one of my favourites in the book) who was given a woefully small role, although the actor who portrayed him did it brilliantly. Also, The character of William Stafford seemed to be added in as an afterthought which confused the audience who hadn't read the book (the two main questions I heard were "Is that the guy she married in the beginning" or "What happened to the guy she married in the beginning") and left those of us who had read the book wondering why he was portrayed as such a pansy?

And the editing, where to begin. Horrible, the particularly poignant scenes (few and far between as they were) were not given enough time to sink in before the audience was whisked off to another scene. Even having read the source material I was lost, so I can only imagine how it must have been from those new to the story.

The only bright side of this tedious film were the beautiful costumes, but even the bright colours and swirly dresses couldn't distract anyone with more then a 10 second attention span and despite them the movie soon became unbearably boring.

All in all, this movie probably shouldn't have been made in the first place. It was apparent there was too much story to tell in two hours, it had mini-series written all over it. But seeing as it had to be made for the film industry to cash in the the books success, it could have been done a lot better.
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Don't go expecting accuracy!
rebwt6 March 2008
Overall, the movie is entertaining. I thought the acting was good, particularly Scarlett Johansson's. The cinematography and editing leave much to be desired, and the entire movie seems rushed. If you have any knowledge of Tudor history,you will recognize the many inaccuracies, but those did not bother me as much as did the fact that important characters were omitted, undeveloped, or even seemingly forgotten (as in the case of Mary's husband, William Carey).

There ARE very affecting characters and scenes, but I left the theatre wishing for MORE. The fascinating lives of these people simply cannot be dealt with in a movie that lasts less than two hours.
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A Film Worth Seeing for the Issues of Gender
lavatch1 March 2008
The Other Boleyn Girl is a compelling film due to the exceptional performances and the splendid costumes. Additionally, there is simply a terrific story told about the relationship of Henry VIII and the two Boleyn sisters, Anne and Mary.

Natalie Portman (Anne) and Scarlett Johansson (Mary) are outstanding as characters engaged in both sibling rivalry and sisterly bonding. In the central relationship of the sisters, the film develops the social roles and imposed limitations on women in Tudor England.

One of the film's most moving character portrayals is the mother of the two Boleyn Sisters. In the heartbreaking performance of Kristin Scott Thomas, Elizabeth Boleyn can only watch helplessly as her daughters become pawns of the greedy men (Thomas Boleyn and the Duke of Norfolk), who use the young women much like pimps in order to line their pockets and further their own advancement at court. Another sterling aspect of the film is the portrayal of Katherine of Aragon (Ana Torent), another victim of the men due to the obsessive pursuit of Henry VIII to beget a male heir, leading to his momentous divorce from Katherine and England's break with the church of Rome.

While commentators may point out the omissions of many of the details from the novel by Philippa Gregory, the film is still true to the spirit of the book. It is also a faithful representation of the role of women in Tudor age. The film effectively presents the gender issues from the perspective of many of the remarkable women of the age along with the reminder of the greatest legacy of Anne Boleyn, which was the indirect result of her relationship of Henry VIII. That legacy was the future ruler of England...and also a woman: Elizabeth I.
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Beautifully filmed historical film that is not historical at all!
gazebo1 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I went to watch this movie knowing that even though the historical figures are real, the story is basically fiction, only Philippa Gregory's version of the tragedy of Anne Boleyn. Watching this film with this attitude really helped me enjoy it rather than be upset that all the historic characters' personalities were so distorted that they were almost unrecognizable. I suggest anyone else going to see this movie adopt this attitude too.

Sitting back, I proceeded to enjoy the scenery, the costumes, the beautiful actresses portraying the Boleyn girls and the over the top acting.

It was a fun movie and it moved along quickly. Scarlet Johansson and Natalie Portman were excellent as the Boleyn sisters. Eric Bana played a very conflicted Henry VIII who is continually frustrated by not getting a male heir. Eric Bana was not very good in this movie, I'm not sure what it was, maybe it was the way how the character was written or that he was just not comfortable in the role. He was extremely miscast as King Henry.

The one to watch in this film is Natalie Portman who seems to have a grand time playing the evil, scheming Anne Boleyn.

I am pleased to see that all the women in this film, like Lady Boleyn, Anne Boleyn, Mary Boleyn and Queen Catherine of Aragon were portrayed as having strong characters and not easily pushed around. Even Mary Boleyn, who seemingly always acquiesce to the wishes of her father and uncle, decided in the end to run off and marry someone who truly loves her.

It's a very entertaining film. Just remember that it's only someone's version of the Tudor history, not the real history, and you won't run into trouble!
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Satisfying and entertaining, but it promised so much more
The Tudors are very chic at the moment. If it isn't "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" (awful) or the television series, "The Tudors" (soft-pornographic trash), then it is "The Other Boleyn Girl", the latest film written by the Oscar nominated screenwriter, Peter Morgan. After his work on the Golden Globe winning TV film "Longford" and the Oscar winning (for its lead actors) "The Queen" and "The Last King of Scotland", his scripts must be in demand by actors across the globe. Little wonder then that this film attracts a stellar cast, including Eric Bana, Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman. So, why is it that this film, which is filled with great talent and potential, delivers only satisfaction? This was originally slated for release late last year, right in the middle of the awards season. Yet, for some reason, it was moved back. Why this was done is not widely known, but, as the IMDb had the film listed as completed last autumn, I should think that the decision was taken that this film would draw more attention outside of the congested awards season. Watching the film, you are aware of the ambition and lavish costumes that would draw the gaze of Oscar. But the film lacks punch, depth and the power to grip you the whole way through.

That's not to say that it isn't entertaining. Far from it, the film is, for an hour and a quarter, perfectly pleasant, with intrigue, scheming and romance aplenty. A lot of the credit must go to the performances, which range from accomplished to fantastically enjoyable to watch. Natalie Portman is impressive as Anne Boleyn. She ranges from scheming and nasty to genuinely sympathetic. It is her most notable work to date. Scarlett Johansson is fine, but everybody is still waiting for her to realise the potential she showed when she announced herself on the scene in "Lost in Translation" and "The Girl with the Pearl Earring". The supporting cast are a joy to watch. Eric Bana is excellent as Henry VIII, but it is the schemers in the background who provide the best entertainment. David Morrissey is having a lot of fun, whilst Mark Rylance and Kristin Scott Thomas are great as the Boleyn parents.

It is a perfectly bearable watch, but unfulfilling. There's an awful lot crammed into the hour and fifty minutes. As year after year of history is skipped through, the film's focus continually shifts, failing to allow certain characters from gaining appropriate intensity. Henry VIII is not as proactive as he might, or should, be. He is more driven then driving, whilst his first wife, Catherine of Aragon (Ana Torrent), is given very little time on screen, thus sidelining a character which should be a figure of great interest. But your expectations are dashed mainly because the film reaches its climax with half-an-hour to go, with an emotional pinnacle being reached and never again surpassed. A rape scene, which seems to be the start of the culmination, with so many points of interest going on in it, proves to be the end of it. The last thirty minutes, whilst quite stylish, are drawn out and slow, and end with a final scene that can only be described as cheesy.

It's a shame that this film is nothing more than admirable in places. But it is a good film for this time of year (that springtime lull between the quality of Winter and the bombast entertainment of Summer). It is an entertaining and satisfying way to pass an afternoon, but it won't live long in the memory.
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A besotted travesty of history
sarastro725 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I am all for trying to do something different, trying to make some new and intriguing point about this or that... no, wait, I guess I'm not. At any rate, whatever they tried to do with this freakosaurus of a "historical" movie, they completely and unforgivably failed at. I know this bit of history well, and have seen most treatments of it in movies and TV shows; even the irreverent and sensationalist Tudors TV show is a masterstroke of brilliance compared to the pondscum that is The Other Boleyn Girl.

This movie keeps developing into ever-greater extremes of absurdity, piling one thoroughly unbelievable scene upon the other. It takes rumors, it takes subsequent history, it takes impossible dialogue and it even takes *rape* and *incest*, and drops it all on the shoulders of Anne Boleyn. This is not only the worst and the least historical account of these events I have yet seen, but also the most offensive and malicious. It is complete, irredeemable nonsense.

Why and how the classy actors could possibly stand for this, I will honestly never know. They must have cringed so loudly inside that the sound technicians must have deleted the creaking. There is only one word that accurately describes this movie: Ridiculous.

Just one final complaint - an insult, really: How can this compost pile have garnered an IMDb rating of nearly 7? The people who have given this movie a good rating must be ignorant soap opera fans with barely a brain cell and a half to rub together.

1 out of 10.
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Why did they bother with a bit of accuracy at the end?
stancym-124 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
OK, I will admit that since I am descended from Mary Boleyn,I do have a bit of family honor at stake here....

I knew the film was going to take liberties with historical truth, but REALLY. The Other Boleyn Girl is almost PURE FICTION from beginning to end. Why did they bother to tack on SOME accurate historical outcomes (in written sentence form) of the characters at the end, just before the credits rolled?

Just to name a couple of examples: Mary Boleyn was married to William Carey as depicted, and Henry took her as his mistress with Carey's approval as he was richly rewarded. Maybe emotionally conflicted approval, I don't know. I rather doubt it. Anyway, in the film Mary marries a commoner at the end. The film never explains what happened to Carey, it would seem to suggest she is committing bigamy!

In the closing "write-over", we read that Mary lived happily ever after with the lower class guy; in fact, her family coldly rejected her because she brought down their status. She suffered emotionally and financially due to the marriage, but was still glad she finally married for love.

Other things that are totally false: Anne and Mary did not hang out all the time as is suggested in the film; I understand that serves the plot well so maybe I will let that one go. Can't let this one go: Henry raping Anne before she surrendered to him. That is ridiculous. And Anne convincing her brother to have incest with her so as to produce an heir? That is even more ridiculous. She would never have broken the incest taboo; also, if Henry was really shunning her bed by that time, as Anne suggests in the film, then if she turned up pregnant she would be accused of adultery and sent to the Tower!

Speaking of being sent to the Tower, in real life Anne conducted herself with great dignity and restraint before and at her execution, likely she was trying to protect her daughter Elizabeth and better secure her daughter's future relationship with Henry. She was innocent of adultery but kept her mouth shut when she knew her fate was sealed. This is not at all how Anne is portrayed in the film.

Cardinal Wolsey is left out of the movie entirely, and he played a MAJOR role in the whole drama of the divorce from Catherine of Aragon and Henry's desire for Anne Boleyn.

I just don't see why this same type of movie could not have been made with FICTIONAL kings and queens and other characters--no authentic names. Then it would not be a particularly good movie but it would be less aggravating. Of course, it could not then claim to be based on Gregory's book about Mary Boleyn. I don't plan to read that; there are too many accurate books about Henry VIII that are no doubt more interesting, and I can read about poor Mary Boleyn in those.
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