Film Review – Mary Queen of Scots (2018)

Title – Mary Queen of Scots (2018)

Director – Josie Rourke (feature debut)

Cast – Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie, Jack Lowden, Guy Pearce, Gemma Chan, Joe Alwyn, David Tennant

Plot – The true story of controversial Scottish monarch Mary Stuart (Ronan) and her uneasy relationship with her cousin Queen Elizabeth 1 (Robbie) during the 1500’s, that saw the two fighting for control of the crown.

 “We have a scourge upon our land. Tis a woman with a crown”

Review by Eddie on 11/07/2019

This based on a true story tale has a great cast, fine production values and lavish sets and costumes but what Josie Rourke’s film importantly lacks is a heart and soul, making Mary Queen of Scots a dull, lifeless and sadly rather boring historical epic.

At one stage touted as a potential key awards contender, that featured the appealing double act of leading Hollywood actresses Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie going head to head as warring royal cousins Mary Stuart and Queen Elizabeth 1 in Scotland and England in the late 1500’s, Rourke’s film is but a collection of scenes scattered together with very little emotional tie in or flow as Ronan and Robbie face an uphill battle to instill the film with any energy or charisma as its loaded plot-line moves from point to point.

There’s a lot for the film to cover off, the tale of Stuart and Queen Elizabeth is one filled with political intrigue, backstabbing’s, murmurings and power plays but Beau Willimon’s screenplay commits the mortal sin of assuming viewers have deep knowledge of all the characters and occurrences that were prevalent in this time frame with Scots suffering badly from a feeling that many characters and key moments are being ticked off rather than explored in any meaningful or insightful way.

What we do know is that this was an important time in the monarchs history, a time where Mary was unafraid to mess with conventions in a time and place where woman were still seen as not much more than a baby-maker, if not that then some type of scheming harlot and in this sense Ronan delivers another noteworthy turn in a career that has been nothing short of impressive ever since she first appeared on our screens in the epic Atonement from 2007.

Ronan often showcases in her performance what the film lacks, heart, soul and energy and she walks away with many of the films best moments, with Robbie not given great material to work with, even though her turn as the outwardly and inwardly vile Queen is another example of the Hollywood beauty showing to all that she is after more than an everyday career, pushing herself as a performer and unafraid to get physically committed to a role.

It’s a mighty shame that Rourke couldn’t of utilized these two actresses to a greater level to bring this real life Game of Thrones (minus magic, dragons and hearty cussing) to life as you do feel as though both performers deserved a film that was more befitting of their turns, as as it stands as an end product, Scots is nothing more than a film for fans of lavish production designs and English history rather than a film to be enjoyed by movie-goers seeking out an emotionally charged political period drama.

Final Say –

A film that could’ve been special, especially with such committed lead turns, Mary Queen of Scots is but a dry, dull and forgettable examination of two fascinating woman that fails to ever capture the mind, heart or imagination needed to bring this loaded tale to life.

2 foals out of 5    

13 responses to “Film Review – Mary Queen of Scots (2018)

  1. It was an interesting movie…a sort of “another side, another story” type feel on Mary’s life. The movie was too crammed and everything happened in a rush manner. Loved Ronan in it.

  2. Hah. Yeah, amusingly if you did go into it knowing a fair bit, the amount of liberties it took with historical accuracy was also a bit… hmm.

    • Ah interesting to here, I must admit to not knowing this part of history to well so I am sure there are things that took place here I had no idea were manufactured or otherwise.

  3. Pingback: Film Review – Mary Queen of Scots (2018) — Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys)·

  4. I wrote my dissertation on Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I and was torn about seeing this film but you’re review supports what I had already heard and I’ll probably give it a skip! Such fascinating historical figure with lives full of drama and intrigue it’s a shame this couldn’t have been played out better.

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