Mary Queen Of Scots Movie Review - The War of the Queens

Updated: May 18, 2019, 18:32 IST | Johnson Thomas | Los Angeles

This is a tapestry of discontent woven with a rare female gaze and allows for greater involvement in the royal proceedings.

Mary Queen Of Scots

U/A: Biography, Drama, History
Director: Josie Rourke
Cast: Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Deborah Woll, Jay Ellis, Tyler Labine
Rating: Ratings

Director Josie Rourke and writer Beau Willimon's attempt to give two warring Queens, the widowed Mary Queen Of Scots (Saoirse Ronan) and Queen Elizabeth I (Margot Robbie) of England, a larger voice in their historic confrontation, makes for fairly compelling viewing. This is a tapestry of discontent woven with a rare female gaze and allows for greater involvement in the royal proceedings.

Mary, following untimely widowhood, returns to her native Scotland to assume her throne. Her half-brother James Moray (James McArdle) is not enthused and his peace-keeping allegiance to the Protestant regime in England may have well become meaningless. Mary's cousin, Elizabeth I, monarch of England is also wary of Mary's far more valid claim to her own throne. So the intrigue and betrayals begin. And it's the men on both sides who play out the deceit in bloody fashion.

Check out the trailer here:

This is largely a biopic on Mary, Queen of Scots beginning with her return to the throne, subsequent precipitous marriages, the power struggle with her brother and several other aspirants to the throne and eventually her tragic death on the orders of her cousin. So there's more than enough drama to be had. Unfortunately, clarity is not a strong point here. Framed largely as per the version put forward by John Guy's biography of the Queen, the film has some controversial moments but fails to concretize the reasoning for her eventual beheading.

We get to meet Mary's ladies-in-waiting, her attempts to solidify her claims to the throne of England, her fight with the clergy who are largely protestant, her brother James' attempts to undercut her authority, John Knox's(David Tenant) outrage at having to know-tow to a female ruler and Elizabeth's helplessness and insecurity in having to deal with a more beautiful, younger claimant to her monarchy. Most of the narrative gives vent to Mary's life story but towards the end the focus shifts to Elizabeth's, thus creating a dichotomy that is a little difficult to empathize with. This filmed drama is largely faithful to the established record, has authentic fashionably period costuming and make-up and intensely committed performances from the two leads as well as their co-actors in crucial roles. So it's a vividly engaging experience even if not an entirely lucid one!

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