Director: Josie Rourke
Release Date: December 7, 2018
Saoirse and Margot shine as two queens in the midst of a political shitshow that would make 2016 feel like a trip to Disneyland.
Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie are at a high point in their respective careers. Both are in their 20’s, both are coming off of a year in which they received Oscar nominations for best actress, and both have talent and range falling out of their ass. Although both have enjoyed box office success working with the likes of Peter Jackson and Martin Scorsese, they retain an affinity for independent films.
Mary Queen of Scots is a conscience decision by both to stray away from guaranteed box office successes like Suicide Squad and The Lovely Bones in order to put their acting abilities on full-display. As an audience member, it’s encouraging to see stars of this magnitude lend their hand to a work that probably doesn’t get produced without them.
Mary Queen of Scots is a period piece, circa 1560. Mary (Ronen) is the queen of France. When her husband dies, she returns to her native Scottland to reclaim her throne. Simultaneously, Mary’s blood cousin, Elizabith (Robbie), is the queen of England. The two monarchs engage in a cold war over who has the rightful claim to the English throne. Elizabeth lives in fear of Mary’s threat to her crown, while, at the same time, envying her youth and grace. Meanwhile, Mary is tasked with protecting her own crown in Scotland against her subjects that would hope to take it from her. Some AP World History shit.
It takes a good amount of time for this movie to settle into itself, but once it does, you’re left with an engaging movie revolving around political game theory with a lot of moving parts. The movie builds constantly, and delivers a satisfying climax. With power struggles and betrayals galore, it’s a story worth telling. The historical accuracy seems to be up for debate, but I spent most of history class watching Lebron highlights on my iPod touch so it wasn’t bothersome.
Story aside, this is the Saoirse and Margot show, with an emphasis on Margot. The casting couldn’t have been executed better. Ronan is Irish, with a similar look and tongue as a Scot and Robbie is Australian with a similar look and tongue as an English woman. The two have this “Pacino and DeNiro in Heat” relationship where they are indirectly affected by each other while being worlds away. Their relationship is the backbone of this movie.
Saoirse is great in her role. She embodies grace and majesty while still projecting a layer of youthful exuberance. Like Lady Bird, this role feels like it was written specifically for her. Going forward, everything Ronan does it worth attention.
But Robbie. Margot fuckin’ Robbie. This is her movie. She’s perfect as the layered, frantic Queen Elizabeth. She’s completely enveloped in the role. As another nod to the casting choice, Elizabeth is constant state of cynicism and distain and Robbie’s resting bitch face is perfect for this. An oversight in the best supporting actress category would be criminal, as her performance may be the best of 2018.
The movie starts slow but by it’s conclusion, it’s deeply satisfying. If you’re not into period pieces, skip it. If you’re into history and shifting political climates, it’s definitely worth a look. If you’re into that Heat shit, where two actors/actresses are going toe-to-toe at the top of their game, this one has your fix. You’ll leave this one in anticipation for the next thing that these two young actresses attach their names to.