A sumptuous and sensual tale of intrigue, romance and betrayal set against the backdrop of a defining moment in European history: two beautiful sisters, Anne (Natalie Portman) and Mary Boleyn (Scarlett Johansson), driven by their family's blind ambition, compete for the love of the handsome and passionate King Henry VIII (Eric Bana).Written by
Mary is forever doomed to be "The Other Boelyn Girl"
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 written...it 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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