Review Mary Queen of Scots by Jonathan Evans

 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)

Two sisters, one is already the Queen of England, the other, younger to be the Queen of Scotland. They could have both ruled peacefully throughout but pride and the manipulation and other greedy men forced conflict and led to the death of one. Mary Queen of Scots tells the story of Queen Mary (Saoirse Ronan), her arrival in Scotland and most of the events that lead to her execution, that wasn’t a spoiler, by the way, its the scene that opens the movie.

Mary’s boat pulls in on the isle of Scotland and her and her followers set up in a castle. Greeting her is the Erl of Moray (James McArdle) her half brother, also there is John Knox (David Tennant) the protestant cleric, he is against Mary taking up the throne because she is Catholic and after he makes this very clear and shows her little to no respect she dismisses him from her court. 

As portraits and historical accounts tell us Mary was a great beauty and Elizabeth had harsher features. This is how they play it in the movie but we can clearly see that Margot Robbie is a very attractive woman in her own right. Even after she suffers an illness and has to be caked in heavy gaudy makeup we can still see through that and know she is beautiful. This is a case of the movie saying one thing while we can clearly see that this isn’t the case. To Robbie’s credit, this is a role where she challenges herself and does something different.  Throughout her career, she has not been content with simply relying on being one thing. She made her name as a sex bomb in The Wolf of Wall Street, became the bouncing mad Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad, a manic colorful killer in Terminal and a very rough around the edges figure skater in I, Tonya. She is usually the best thing in whatever movie she’s in even if the movie is less than stellar. Her she plays the iconic queen that was by all accounts fastidious and kept composure at all costs, along with her flawless English accent this is another notch on her impressive and diverse filmography.

All the actors are very good here. These are accomplished actors that have to go through multiple moods within the movie, except for Tennant who is a grumpy bearded man throughout. They adjust themselves depending on who they are talking to. Whether they are talking to an equal, someone below them, someone they’re attracted to or someone who’s trust they are trying to gain and after they’ve gained it speak to them differently.

For the historical accuracy of the movie I cannot attest to, it is one of the many periods I have a blank space on. I know a little but not in any way to call foul on. However I do not believe that matters so much, history is history and a movie needs to tell its story, for as much historical accuracy as we can get seek out of book or documentary. I have no issue with a movie taking the overall tale that really happened and tweaking it for narrative purposes, only when they insult the spirit of the real people or make something so different that they might as well have just made something original, to begin with. There is a scene near the end which I know is completely fictitious but it’s fine because it serves as a correct narrative climax. 

In the end, things are said and we end on the black card with white text that reads to us what happened afterward. These characters and this world never really seems to come alive, striking cinematography and intricate costumes and hair, but it’s all show. The elements for a good movie are here, it just needs a breath of life within it.

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