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The Other Boleyn Girl

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The Other Boleyn Girl is a Beautiful Bore.

Mar 1, 2008
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: OK

  • Bang For The Buck

Pros:Oooh...pretty...

Cons:Yawn.

The Bottom Line: Life in Henry VIII's court had to be more interesting than this.


My thoughts on The Other Boleyn Girl? Great book. Lousy movie. Alas, the critics are right for once and this historical drama is as lifeless and dull as you’ve heard.

Plot Information
In a change from common history, Anne Boleyn (Natalie Portman) is cast as the other sister in this movie about the Boleyn sisters’ rise to and fall from power in the court of King Henry VIII (Eric Bana). It is initially the sweeter, gentler Mary (Scarlet Johansson) who catches Henry’s eye, to the shock and dismay of strong-willed Anne. Expect much bed-hopping by the Boleyn girls and political machinating by their villainous uncle, the Duke of Norfok (David Morissey), in his attempts to elevate the Howard family’s status.

My Thoughts
I wanted to love this movie so much! Even the early scathingly negative reviews did nothing to sway my hopes for The Other Boleyn Girl. I recently found myself unable to put down Phillipa Gregory’s book by the same name, and I thought if the movie was even a fraction as good as the book it would be worth seeing. As it turns out, the film adaptation is a very, very, small fraction as good.

Sexual romps and battles for power should make for a fascinating two-hours. Why, then, is this film so deathly boring? For starters, viewers are disadvantaged by some truly bizarre editing choices in The Other Boleyn Girl. Filmmakers shy away from showing anything resembling an action sequence. At one point, the king is badly injured in a horse ride with significant results for the Boleyn family. We don’t see the horse ride itself. Later in the film, Anne and the king have a dramatic argument where she strikes the king. We think they do, at least. Viewers are left to guess as to what was actually said during the fight, because only the aftermath is shown. Because of its choppy style, The Other Boleyn Girl never really reaches a climax. Mr_chelledun commented that the film was just one pregnancy and birth/stillbirth after another.

Additionally, this movie adaptation falls woefully short of its counterpart in terms of creating compelling characters. The only character with the least bit of complexity is the king, although we don’t see enough of him to even begin to understand his motives. Most other characters seem one-note. In particular, Ana Torrent’s Katharine of Aragorn comes across as vindictive instead of royal in her handful of lines. Kristin Scott Thomas, probably through no fault of her own, presents a Lady Elizabeth Boleyn who seems anachronistically feminist. I found myself most disappointed, though, with Natalie Portman’s Anne. Portman may look the part, but I just don’t think she has the subtlety as an actress to present this character in a believably manipulative way. Her Anne comes across like the high school queen bee, deliberately nasty and blatant about her lofty ambition and desire to rub her sister’s face in her success.

Speaking of her sister, I do think Scarlet Johansson does a nice job with her simple character. Mary provides some much needed likability in a film full of jerks, and Johansson is believable as the girl without a streak of meanness in her. She looks beautiful throughout. The whole cast, in fact, looks beautiful. While I have many criticisms of this film, costuming is not among them and it was almost worth sitting through the whole thing just to see the beautiful clothes.

Overall…
The Other Boleyn Girl offers a few interesting moments and plenty of beautiful people. That’s pretty much it, though. It’s up to you whether you feel like slogging through this two-hour saga, but I can attest that most fans of the book will be sorely disappointed.


Recommend this product? No


Worst Part of this Film: Pacing

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