I had the misfortune of catching half of Cate Blanchett’s fun, sumptuous and engaging Elizabeth recently. The comparison makes this turdfest even more unbearable.
Sairose Ronan is one note – fiery, wild eyed indignance – as Mary Queen of Scots. Margot Robbie is way out of her depth as Elizabeth. She acts like she’s in a high school production. But the performances are the least of this picture’s woes.
The script is charmless and dull. Intrigue has no deftness. People just argue briefly, declare and then act.
The lone battle scene is so badly handled, you don’t know what the hell is happening. It presents like kids playing war in the backyard.
The script is also obsessed with its feminist hot take, particularly with Mary, who is put-upon by a man’s world and way ahead of the curve. Mary’s ladies in waiting are a regular Fox Force Five! When she has her first sexual encounter with her soon to be husband, who turns out to be gay and who she later has to rape (very unconvincingly) to have an heir, he performs cunnilingus on her. John Knox hates Mary, not because she was a Catholic, but because she was a damnable woman who enjoyed sins of the flesh (he calls her “whore of Babylon”, “strumpet” and “harlot” in one speech). We even get to see Mary menstruate.
Elizabeth gets in on the act as well, hectoring her male advisors with “we could do well worse” than Mary as queen and bemoaning Mary’s fate with “How cruel men are.”
Girl power, apparently, trumps Power power. Indeed, when they eventually meet, there is no enmity. Just a couple of gals dishing on inequity, the glass ceiling and the unfairness of it all. Until Mary gets wild-eyed and entitled and the girl power card loses its oomph.
Then, bitches get stitches and Mary is locked away, eventually to be beheaded.
The writer secures revenge in the post-script, however, lording Mary’s fertility over Elizabeth’s mere 44 year reign.
Modernity infects this dog in many other ways. When Mary’s gay attendant stops just short of breaking into a show tune, and pulls himself up short, the modern and reformed Catholic soothes him with a “be whoever you wish to be with us” (when he sleeps with her husband, kneels before her and begs for forgiveness, she soothes him again – “you have not betrayed your nature”). Before battle, she assures one of her Protestant soldiers that should they die, they will all see the same God.
Best line. “I will not become a lady Henry VIII dispensing husbands as he did wives.“
A massive bag of crap. And no fun!