- 3.5 out of 5
Mary Queen of Scots - the real Game of Thrones
History teachers all over the UK are probably holding their heads and praying that their students never watch this. Yes, Mary Queen of Scots gives the titular character and Elizabeth I the Hollywood treatment. I'm not going to get into the accuracy of the film as we could be here all day. Suffice to say I left my history at the door and enjoyed it as it was presented.
Director Josie Rourke, who has produced many, many acclaimed stage productions, brings the story of Mary Stuart to the big screen. So where are we in this slice of Tudor history? Production company Focus Features tell us that Mary Queen of Scots explores the turbulent life of the charismatic Mary Stuart. Queen of France at 16 and widowed at 18, Mary defies pressure to remarry. Instead, she returns to her native Scotland to reclaim her rightful throne. But Scotland and England fall under the rule of the compelling Elizabeth I. Mary and Elizabeth behold each other in fear and fascination. Rivals in power and in love, and female regents in a masculine world, the two must decide how to play the game of marriage versus independence. Determined to rule as much more than a figurehead, Mary asserts her claim to the English throne, threatening Elizabeth's sovereignty. Betrayal, rebellion, and conspiracies within each court imperil both thrones - and change the course of history.
The production values are good but it's the two lead performances that count. Saoirse Ronan, is definitely the Meryl Streep of her generation and seems to be on that kind of career path. She is regal and fiery, yet fun-loving and fearful and dominates every scene she is in. Margot Robbie gives us a memorably neurotic but sympathetic Elizabeth. They are the reasons to see this film. An almost unrecognisable David Tennant turns up as John Knox with many memorable lines including, "We have a scourge upon our land. 'Tis a woman with a crown!" Advising Elizabeth is Guy Pearce in an underused role. I wanted him to be more Machiavellian.
As a standalone story, it works and works well with tour de force performances from Saoirse Ronan and Margo Robbie. Special mention too for the hair-dos.
PS - there are no White Walkers