#REVIEW: “MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS”
Review by George Kozera for Mr. Will Wong
Each nominated last year for an Academy Award, Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie team up together in one of this year’highly-anticipated movies, MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS. And what a joy it is to see these talented actresses rip-up the screen, if you can wrap your brain around the history and relationships of the British monarchy of the 1500s!
Mary Stuart (Ronan) was the Queen of France at the age of 16 and was widowed at the age of 18. Instead of remarrying, this headstrong young woman returned to Scotland to reclaim her rightful throne. However, and it’s a big however, Scotland and England are now ruled by Elizabeth I (Robbie). Whereas in reality they are cousins, each of them refer to the other as sister, but there is no love between them.
MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS opens and closes with the beheading of Mary, therefore we know immediately that she will lose in this battle of power between two strong and enigmatic women. But what a glorious journey the Movie is.
Whhistorically-ary back home in Scotland, we see a free-spirited, impulsive and straightforward young woman, beloved by her handmaidens and respectfully treating her gay troubadour but is hindered by the men in her life which include her husband (Jack Lowden displaying a wide range most impressively) and Lord Dudley (Joe Alwyn who also has a prominent role in The Favourite). In a series of diplomatic, yet dripping with borderline cattiness, letters between Mary and Elizabeth, each refuse to relinquish any power they may have. Back in London, Elizabeth endures continuous, poisonous remarks from her Protestant advisors, which include Guy Pearce and David Tennant in juicy performances, about the dangers that the Catholic Mary could wreak on the Empire.
With a Screenplay by Beau Willimon, MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS shares many attributes with “House of Cards”, the TV Series he had created. Political rivalries and the intoxication of power are sublimely represented here.
Many things surprised me while watching this movie. First and foremost was, despite how strong Mary and Elizabeth were, they were misguided by the men in their courts who seemed to have their own personal needs and ideologies ahead of anything else. By kowtow-ing to the men’s advice, just how much power did these women have? And I continue to always be shocked by how barbaric and violent the royal families were in the days of yore. That said, MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS is one of the most beautiful movies in 2018. The costumes and wigs are beyond exquisite, they are works of art that, I unequivocally predict, will put an Oscar on Designer Alexandra Byrne’s mantelpiece.
The true joy of this Movie is seeing the two Actresses dominate the screen. Whereas Margot Robbie’s role is more supporting actress versus lead due to her limited screen time, it is fierce and heartbreaking, especially when Elizabeth is stricken with a horrendous case of smallpox. In a historicallyinaccurate scene where Mary and Elizabeth finally meet face to face to verbally battle it out, Robbie dominates. It appears there is very little she cannot do and I can’t wait to see what she will do next. And as for Saoirse Ronan, my admiration and awe of her talent has yet to subside. At the age of 24, she already has three Oscar nominations and just slays it every time, despite the movie genre. She is a treasure and commands attention whenever she appears in MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS.
Hail Saoirse, Queen of Cinema!
Universal Pictures Canada release MARY, QUEEEN OF SCOTS Friday, December 14, 2018.