Plot – Mary Stuart’s (Saoirse Ronan’s) attempt to overthrow her cousin Elizabeth I (Margot Robbie), Queen of England, finds her condemned to years of imprisonment before facing execution.
Director – Josie Rourke
Released – 2019
After looking into the life of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, I can appreciate how much of a fascinating woman she was and how fascinating the events that transpired during her life were, which is why I was excited to see a big-budget film adaptation centred around her power struggle with Queen Elizabeth for the crowns of England & Scotland.
By far the biggest thing going for Mary Queen of Scots is the extremely talented leading ladies, Robbie gives another in a long line of accomplished performances as Queen Elizabeth, whereas Ronan was perfectly cast as young and willful Queen Mary as she deals with the politics of the state. The force of wills both characters share is wonderfully realised on-screen. As Mary, Ronan grows as a new Queen, switching from restrained to sharp-tongued and firey when the need arises, which perfectly mirrors Robbie’s Elizabeth, the longer reigning stubborn and strong-willed monarch, currently dealing with her fading good looks with layers of make-up.
Although the two don’t meet on-screen until near the end of the movie, it remained enjoyable to watch the rivalry develop through the use of diplomacy and carefully worded letters and calculated espionage. The interplay between the two is great, with both knowing the other is plotting against them and try to counteract that with their own plots, but neither can full-on challenge the other for of starting a war between their kingdoms.
Sadly when you move away from the leads and the basic premise of the plot, there are some downsides to the film, firstly the rush to get so many events into the film, made the passage of time feel unclear and made portions of the plot feel a too complex. More regrettable is the overreliance on sex scenes. They feel entirely unnecessary to the plot and don’t provide the titillation that was clearly the reason for their inclusion. It’s hard to see a reason why the audience needs to see Mary receive oral, but for some reason, it’s in the film.
For all its flaws, Mary Queen of Scots is a wonderfully acted character and beautiful looking movie, filled with intrigue and drama, which will satisfy fans of period dramas and strong female leads, sadly let down with an overreliance on sex and overly complex plot.
If you liked: Apocalypto, Little Women, Outlaw King