Mary Queen Of Scots

***

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Mary Queen Of Scots
"Robbie plays Elizabeth with a pursed lip and the promise of stability in her stern demeanour, leaving the not-so-gentle men confused and alert for change." | Photo: Focus Features

It’s the end of the 16th century. What can you expect from a nation like Scotland? Moorland and more land, heather and gorse, horses ridden across empty spaces.A young lady leaves the privilege of the French court. To lead a revolution? A what? A something less than other perhaps. England, the nation to the south, has survived the brutality of King Henry’s ambition. Rome has not. Catholics are on the run.

Now cousin Elizabeth gathers the detritus into orderly piles. She has a reputation for knowing her own mind which does not involve male influence. When Mary sails into the north, Elizabeth welcomes her by letter, an intelligent woman who speaks another language. Keep her close, friends at war, not with each other in this world of scheming, shiftless men who plot and plan and fight the French or anyone else that fires the blood.

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Mary was red haired and glowing. Whether true or not is a matter of shuffling gossip and picking what looks best on the night. In this case, her name is Margot Robbie, an Aussie stunna who showed how good she was in I, Tonya. But hang on a pretty minute. In this film she doesn’t play Mary, as you expected, but The Virgin Queen. The casting dept has a sense of humour after all. Mary is played by Saoirse Ronan, one of the most natural Irish actresses to emerge during the last five years, who doesn’t rely on glamour to fabulise expectation. Robbie plays Elizabeth with a pursed lip and the promise of stability in her stern demeanour, leaving the not-so-gentle men confused and alert for change.

If the film is less kind to Mary, deserting her beneath a canvas of tragedy, she has her baby boy, James, even though her husband lusted after adoration and power that eluded him. Was it faiture that forced her onwards, or a genuine desire to find hope in this dangerous place? In the end one question lingers - why? Mary’s story hungers for resolution, leaving the faded image of a crippled dancer.

Reviewed on: 10 Jan 2019
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The life of the monarch.

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