Mary Queen of Scots is the story of two queens, Mary of Scotland and Elizabeth of England and it’s fraught with soap opera, and it’s 1561.
Mary is played by the always pale (and very talented) Saoirse Ronan. She’s depicted as a bleeding -heart liberal with a husband more interested in the male lute player than his wife. Elizabeth (played by the miscast Margot Robbie) is the very jealous and very single virgin ruler of England who doesn’t want to get royally squeezed out by Mary, who challenges her throne. Robbie is drowning in a make- me- look- ugly make-up job complete with prosthetic nose, and pockmarked face (poor Liz got the small pox.)
The tale takes place in the 16th century, yet Mary has highlights, her brother wears eye make-up and a member of her court is a cross dresser. Scotland seems to have been a lively place. I love that Mary puts up curtains when she lands in her brother’s big barren stone castle. She probably went shopping at Bed, Bath and Beyond before she fled France.
I’m a big fan of both of these historical women, (full disclosure: I wrote my sixth- grade book report on Antonia Fraser’s historical bio Mary Queen of Scots) but I digress.
I don’t even know where to begin with this tragedy of a film. The reality is the real story is filled with over the top drama, but this flick goes steps further, there’s oral sex, gay sex, straight sex—lots of sex, we even get to see Mary get her period, umm, why? I’m not sure this added to this re-imagined historical drama. And there’s lots of staring (I guess queens stare a lot) along with sweeping shots of the ladies in their starched -up finery. The costumes are lovely, and the lighting is very chiaroscuro. It must be nice to live in spotlights.
I really wanted to like this movie, but both the writing and the directing felt forced. Katy Perry’s “Roar” could’ve been the soundtrack’s anthem (that’s how loud it screams I’m a woman and no one listens to me.)
Directing credit goes to Josie Rourke. Beau Willimon wrote the screenplay based on the book by John Guy (Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart.)
Do yourself a favor and watch the 1971 film Mary Queen of Scots with the magnificent Glenda Jackson as Elizabeth and the stunning Vanessa Redgrave as Mary, at least it feels like history, not a scene from Mean Girls.
Mary Queen of Scots is in theaters now, but we recommend staying home and eating haggis.