Mary Queen of Scots (2018)
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The year is 1560, and the young and beautiful Mary Tudor (Saoirse Ronan) returns home, where she is out of place in a dreary Scottish castle. Her half-brother, James, Earl of Moray (James McArdle), has been ruling as regent, alongside a bevy of colorless and perpetually-angry Protestant men. Her appearance in Scotland alarms her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I of England (Margot Robbie). Elizabeth, a Protestant, is not seen as a legitimate ruler by her Catholic subjects. She seeks to gain influence over Mary by arranging a marriage with Elizabeth's own lover, Robert Dudley (Joe Alwyn).
Instead, Mary marries the charming and charismatic Lord Henry Darnley (Jack Lowden), who pulls a Jeckyll-and-Hyde routine and becomes a drunken lecher on their wedding night. Things get complicated for the childless Queen Elizabeth when Mary becomes pregnant, producing an heir for her dynasty and strengthening her claim to the English throne. Can Mary fend off attacks from her domestic critics and convince Elizabeth to acknowledge her as England's rightful ruler?
Mary Queen of Scots couldn't decide whether it wanted to be a film about the rivalry between two queens or a revisionist biopic of its titular character, so it does neither particularly well. This ill-conceived and poorly executed film also missed a chance to let its leading ladies shine. As Queen Elizabeth, the talented Margot Robbie goes to waste as a costumed mannequin who practically disappears for the middle third of the film.
Historically, Mary Stuart was born in 1542, the only legitimate heir to Scottish King James V. She was briefly married to the King of France. After his untimely death in 1560, Mary returned to Scotland and ruled as Mary I of Scotland until 1567, when she was forced to abdicate after her second husband's murder (which her rivals accused her of orchestrating). She fled to England to seek protection from her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I, but many English Catholics considered Mary the legitimate Queen of England, so Elizabeth had her imprisoned and later executed.
There are many anachronisms and inaccuracies throughout Mary Queen of Scots, not the least of which was "colorblind casting" that falsely portrays 16th-Century England and Scotland's aristocracy as racially diverse. Mary's Scottish accent was also out of place (she grew up in France), as was her friendship with Italian courtier David Rizzio/Riccio. Most historians acknowledge Mary was probably having an affair with the man, which infuriated her Second Husband. Rizzio might have been bisexual, but he wasn't "one of the girls," as the film portrays.
Though ostensibly based on a book, this film can be considered a remake of the 1971 film by the same name. Mary, Queen of Scots (1971) was directed by Charles Jarrott and starred Vanessa Redgrave and Glenda Jackson. Like the 2018 film, the 1971 version featured a fictional meeting between the two queens and speculated that Lord Darnley and the musician David Riccio were lovers. The two films part ways, however, when it came to Mary's imprisonment. The 1971 version devotes more screen time to her 19 years in English captivity, while this version fast-forwards through it.
Mary Queen of Scots opened to mixed reviews and currently holds a 63% positive rating from critics and 44% audience favorability on RottenTomatoes. Its opening weekend took in a painful $194,777 on a $25 million budget. A successful film gets the audience invested in the story. Mary Queen of Scots ultimately failed to connect with audiences because it was more concerned with pushing the filmmaker's social perspective than making us care about who gains the English throne.
Try to imagine Mel Gibson's Apocalypto with a cast that includes Chinese, Norwegians, and why not, Cherokees!
Shame on you, cast, director and everyone who contributed to this disaster of a film for accepting to work on such a racially oriented diverse junk.
Overall its 2 hours of my life I can never get back! Dont waste your time with this crap of a movie!
One day I hope someone has the cajones to make a film about Mary's son, James VI, who undid all the sacrifice and suffering of his fellow Scots, in their struggle for freedom, to ultimately bind Scotland to London via the United Kingdom.
I could almost forgive it if the movie worked as art, but every character with the exception of Mary is so two-dimensional that it's hard to get involved with them.
I could forgive the movie if it was entertaining, but it is quite a slog, feeling far longer than its two-hour runtime. Excessive sex scenes and pretty shots of the Scottish countryside do not entertainment make. The music is pretty standard "epic" fare. The cinematography is good but nothing exceptionally original or interesting.
By the end, I was rather bored and ready to be out of the theater.
If you're looking for a historic movie..you're goi g to be a sadly disappointed. Elizabeth and Mary ever actually ever met in their life time, they never laid eyes on each other...they only corresponded through many letters to each other.
Elizabeth was in a constant state of paranoia about Mary taking the throne from her. Her advisers constantly whispering in her ear, putting the idea in her mind about having Mary executed. It was actually never Elizabeth's intention to kill Mary.
Mary actually only came to England once, because she was exiled from Scotland with no where else to go. While in England she would be captured and would remain on house arrest until her execution/beheading.
This movie is a bunch of fictional fluff and not historically accurate to what actually happened in English/British history! Someone failed to do their research before making this movie! Extremely disappointing!!!
Ironically, re-writing history to fit in modern agendas will surely only date a film - in decades to come, why would anyone interested in the 1560s seek out a film soaked in the agendas of 2018?
Modernistic/PC/"woke" shoved in the viewers faces from start to end. The world would be such a great place if those mean old men would just let these women handle things. Forgetting of course that each would like to eliminate the other, and that Elizabeth ascended with the beheading of Mary Tudor.
Some point to the leads' 'superb' acting. Meh. Ronan stares fiercely throughout, but her motivations are all over the place. Robbie wants some Oscar cred by playing ugly, but she's the wannest Elizabeth the screen has produced. Her makeup at the end is Queen of Hearts meets Ronald McDonald. She's out of the film for extended periods, draining whatever conflict might exist.
Forget historical. Forget it. "Historical fiction" should involve fiction in the past, not treating well documented real people however you want to tell a story.
Elizabeth has an Asian handmaid, and a black lord ambassador. Mary has a black handmaid, and a gaay hispanic minstrel who becomes a handmaid. Said minstrel then has sex with Mary's husband after their wedding feast. Mary later thanks him for this and being 'his true self'. Husband may or may be gaay (bi?) but does lower himself to pleasure Mary - passing on equal treatment. Other blacks abound in 16th century Scotland. Disappointed a trans Eskimo never showed up. Shows what a first-time female stage director will get you.
The pacing is listless, and story convoluted with one plot countering another. The arthouse climax of a never-happened meeting of the two in a gauzy laundry is the brown cherry on this excreble pie.
It's interesting that the positive reviews can point to little more than costumes and cinematography. When was the last time either of those was criticized in a film. This is a bad episode of "Reign" with higher production values.
The movie was 2 hours and 4 minutes of excruciating pain and politically correct diversity thrown in to confuse the hapless viewers who might believe that "this is how it was". There was an English black ambassador to the Scottish Court, an Oriental handmaiden and a mixed race (or Pacific Islander) minstrel among the historic fakery sprinkled throughout this clinker (such as Mary and Elizabeth meeting, which never happened, and Elizabeth being subservient to Mary). And, somehow, enough viewers thought that this was great theater to give it a combined 6.3 out of 10 star rating. I guess that legalized pot sales are taking its toll!
My best advice, as an alternative to this "gem", is to read some real history about this period when England was emerging as a preeminent nation in Western Civilization. This film is a dud...I hope the actors cashed their paychecks before they bounced!
Is England out of White actors? I ask because a Black face anywhere in England or Scotland in the Tudor Era would have been an anomaly, yet they cast Adrian Lester to play Thomas Randolph, Elizabeth's ambassador to Scotland. Do WHAT??
Lester is a fine actor, but why not have him drive a Honda around London too? It's about as historically accurate. That's not the only case either. What next. Roots with an all-White cast? Hamlet as an Asian prince of Denmark? I know, Caitlyn Jenner as MLK!
When one undertakes to make a historical film, at least pretend to do so accurately. It starts out a nice BBC docudrama, it ends up being Mary, Men in Tights.
Also, shame on whomever talked Margot Robbie into taking a role where she looked so hideous. You are a heartless creature who would draw a moustache on the Mona Lisa.
Anyway, boring and historical inacurate in many ways: a waste of money and talent and a waste of time for the audience.
I like Saoirse Ronan's work, she made some really beautiful and special movies like Byzantium, Lovely Bones and Violet & Daisy to name a few, but her last movies are mediocre at best (The Seagull, Lady Bird). She should choose her projects more carefully.
p.s. I just wonder when the time is right and we will see the first bio about a Pope played by an transgender of African origin, or Brad Pitt playing Nelson Mandela or Malcom X ;)
I mean, I knew going in that this was supposed to be one of those re-imagined historical pics, taking creative licence, a lot of it actually, but not this freaking much?!
It tries to be both a live-action play and an historical epic...and ends up being neither.
On the meagre plus side, Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie are good, it's the movie surrounding them that sucked. Also the cinematography is beautiful. And that's it.
Think of "Mary, Queen Of Scotts" as "King Arthur Legend Of The Sword" and the recent "Robin Hood" without the action set pieces...can we please stop making these damn "woke" versions of historical movies and just try to make a good movie instead?!
4 out of 10.