2019 Film Reviews - 5: Mary Queen Of Scots [dir. Josie Rourke; 2018]

If we accept the premise that historical films reveal more about the present than about the period in which they’re set, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Mary Queen Of Scots is a comprehensive - if somewhat heavy-handed - encapsulation of this era of gender fluidity, sharpened misogyny and the #MeToo movement. Indeed, Josie Rourke’s camera and framing create an almost palpable sense of the knuckle-biting frustration felt by all the men whose ambitions rest oh-so-inconveniently on the contents of women’s wombs. However, worthy performances aside - Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie are suitably majestic, but perhaps more notable is another star-in-the-making turn from Jack Lowden as Darnley - the air of weighty staginess and a tension-killing, cross-cut succession of rather similar court-intrigue scenes ultimately cause the whole to become an unsatisfying piece of work. And that’s without even considering that many experts have been outraged by the accuracy of certain sequences. But I suspect the film was never intended to be a history lesson.



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