MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS – A Review by Gadi Elkon

Look to your consciences and remember that the theatre of the world is wider than the realm of England.   From John Guy’s Book – “Queen of Scots:  The True Life of Mary Stuart”.

Here is my full review of Mary Queen of Scots.

Historical biographical films always teeter along the to much information or to little information elements of their film.  Oscar & Emmy Nominated Writer Beau Willimon has crafted something near perfect with his take on John Guy’s powerful book, “Queen of Scots:  The True Life of Mary Stuart”.  Director Josie Rourke needs a big nod towards creating the perfect world for our two majestic queens to inhabit.  The film’s 2 hour length is perfectly paced with just the right amount of informational tidbits to make you yearn to learn more and to feel satisfied that you’ve witnessed a full truth.  Mary Stuart’s existence has been marred by those that “won” the war but it would be her lineage that would reach the 18th century.  Josie and her team divide the film nicely by given us the duality of the sister queens.  They are even mirrored in some fantastic cinematic scenes shot by Oscar Nominated cinematographer John Mathieson.  The queens shared more than the harshness of being women leaders in a male ruled world.  The film does a great job of showcasing the vast similarities of the two women and the film’s final “disputed” meeting holds such a powerful element to end the movie.

To have such a successful film you need two lead actresses who can handle that on screen pressure.  It’s hard to argue any two could have tackled better than our Mary – Saoirse Ronan and our Elizabeth – Margot Robbie.  Ronan is continuing along a Meryl Streep like trajectory of everything she portrays deserves award recognition.  Mary Stuart is certainly another massive hit by the young actress who dominates every moment she is on screen.  Queen Elizabeth’s own fear of the beauty and boldness of Mary is captured on screen with Saoirse never not being the center of attention.  Robbie’s performance shares her scaled down physical look that she showcased in I, Tonya.  Robbie transforms into Elizabeth and her constant struggling demeanor showcases so much of the immense pressure the Queen must have lived through.  There are some stellar performances other than our two Queens, but the film is as great as it is because of these two fine actresses.  I will give a solid shout out to David Tennant who’s bearded portrayal of John Knox makes him unrecognizable.  But hold little doubt that the David we know so well shines in his devious priest he so brilliantly plays.  Of all the backstabbing that went on in this war over the crown Tennant’s John Knox stands tallest and his fearless performance is haunting.

The Guy book and Willimon’s script allow for a film to highlight the tremendous inequality our world has given to the most powerful women.  Their ability to bare children being the only real power seen by the males that make up the inner counsels.  Ronan’s performance showcased a proud defiant take on this lack of respect.  While Robbie’s Elizabeth was the perfect assimilated take on how to survive as the Queen.  It is this drastic difference that forever splits the two sisters and ultimately has allowed these two women’s legacies to be forever entwined.  Both woman wanted to rule based on their merit but the world wouldn’t allow it to be that simple.  It is this element of the film that resonates so strongly and reflects so much in our current society.  The placement of women in society is something still being battled and this film fights to ask why so damn long has it lasted.   This ability to turn the biography into a commentary on our world is why this movie stands out.  It easily is one of the year’s best films and the award season will highlight this quality.

Pay these amazing Queens their full respect by racing to see the film!

For more information:  MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS

Directed by Josie Rourke
Written by Beau Willimon (screenplay by), John Guy (based on the book “Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart” by)
Rated R
Selig Rating A+
Running Time 2hr 4min
Biography, Drama, History
Release – Out Now Nationally
Starring:  Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie, Jack Lowden, Adrian Lester, Guy Pearce, Joe Alwyn, David Tennant
The Selig Rating Scale:
A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
B – Good movie
C – OK movie
D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.
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