Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Royal pain.

I watched The Other Boleyn Girl, starring Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, and Eric Bana, this week. While certainly not among the best movies I've seen, it did have a nice build to it, as well as the stunning costumes (and the jewelry, oh the jewelry!) you'd expect from such a period piece.

In the film, Boleyn sisters Mary (Johansson) and Ann (Portman) are raised in the country. The two girls are unfortunate enough to have an ambitious father and uncle, who plot to advance the family's fortune and position. To achieve such a lofty goal, the two men decide to use Mary and Ann as bait for the frustrated King of England (Bana), whose current wife has failed to bear a male heir to the throne.

The King is initially captivated by Mary's innocence and sweetness. However, conniving Ann turns the King's affections towards herself, despite the fact that Mary bears the King an illegitimate son. Unsatisfied with simply being a mistress, Ann convinces the King to divorce his wife and break with the Catholic church, merely to possess her. As England, and the Boleyn family, is ripped in twain by the King's actions, Ann and Mary cling to one another.

I thought that all performances were solid, but the movie suffered from a talk-y plot and too much meandering, too much readiness to cast blame upon characters rather than just present the action. Also, it is unfortunate that Johansson's beauty, one of her greatest assets on screen, was basically washed-out in this film. Very little makeup, lots of drab colors. I understand she was presented as an opposite of the vibrant Ann, but such choices did the actress a disservice.

Bana did an admirable job, as did Kristin Scott Thomas (who played mother to the two girls). David Morissey, as the calculating Duke of Norfolk, was delightfully seedy. (He reminds me of someone, an older actor, but I can't place it.)

I'd say that, out of 5 stars, this one merits a 2.5 or 3. Not necessarily something I'd rush right out and rent, but it did have its moments.


A. Boyd C. said...

I wonder if there's any historical period that's been done as often in drama and novels as the mess around Henry VIII.

It would have been interesting to see Shakespeare's take on it, although it might have cost him his head.

Miss Lippy said...

I had been wondering if I should Netflix this. Now I think I might. Thanks for the scoop.