Other Boleyn Girl

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The Other Boleyn Girl: the Other Movie Rental.

Jun 13, 2008
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Costuming, Solid performances by several Actresses.

Cons:Too short for the material; plot holes, several mediocre performances

The Bottom Line: A period piece that could have been great, but fell short. Still pretty, but not substantive.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.

The Other Boleyn Girl Directed by Justin Chadwick.

Mary Boleyn: Why? Why this cruelty? You know I love him...
Anne Boleyn: Well, I guess you'll have to stop.

This is the story of the Boleyn Sisters, Anne and Mary, and the way they were used to promote the political ambitions of men. One sister was not political, or very astute, and so was a pawn; the other was better at the game, and became a Queen.

Mary, the younger sister, was betrothed to the son of a wealthy merchant family. Originally, they had asked for Anne, but her father sensed in her the possibility of greatness, she would be reserved for better things.

Better things came when Katherine of Aragon had a miscarriage. The Queen was considerably older than her King, and their marriage had suffered for a lack of king. Now, it was obvious that the Queen was on the last ticks of her biological clock, and the resentment had cause Henry to seek comfort, and sex, elsewhere.

Enter Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk. This ambitious man is determined to grab onto power anyway he can. One of the ways he can is by prostituting his sister’s daughter Anne out to the King’s lusts. Anne is informed that she is now to be a wh*re; good news, the pay is great. And she’ll probably get a Duke out of the deal.

But when the King drops by, Anne shows him up as a better rider and he falls into a ravine. Wounded, they send Mary to tend to him.

Well, the King orders Mary to court. Her Uncle orders her to capitulate. Mary is horrified. She is a married woman, and the men in her life, her uncle, her father, and her husband, are forcing her to give up her dream of a quite life in the country, far from the bickering and backstabbing, and to instead open her thighs to a man not her husband.

But she is the sweet sister, the passive sister, and much to her surprise, she finds Henry a gentle, patient, and good lover, the implication that her husband was not any of these.

But on the downside Anne blames her for stealing her opportunity, something that she felt forced into. In a fit of teenage insanity and spite, Anne marries Henry Percy, a man considerable above her in station, and betrothed to the daughter of a powerful noble. They are split up, and told that they will take the secret to their grave. Anne will take it with her on the way to France.

Sir Thomas Boleyn: You will be sent to France and stay there until you've learned your lesson.
Anne Boleyn: What? No! Father, please!
Sir Thomas Boleyn: How can you have done this? You knew full well that Mary's friendship with the king is at an extremely delicate state! Any scandal, any mark upon her name could be fatal!
The Duke of Norfolk: You will be sent to join the court of the French queen and stay there until your father has forgiven you.

Mary ends up pregnant. She, and the King are delighted. But there are complications, and she takes to her bed.

And this leaves Norfolk concerned. She will be abed for months, and during that time, the King will not be celibate.

So they bring back Anne to keep the King distracted, and singing Mary’s praises.

But Anne’s mother had sent her into exile with a piece of advice; learn the ways of women of power from the Queen of France and her ladies.

And Anne does. A bit of laughter at dinner catches the king’s attention.

King Henry VIII: What's so amusing?
Anne Boleyn: I was merely offering my thoughts on the new French king. With such great power, yet such meager authority as a man.
King Henry VIII: Continue.
Anne Boleyn: (slowly walking forward) His pettiness is astounding. He will bear a mortal grudge at the mildest of slights. Spoiled cub with a spike in his paw. Riveted with resentment. Unable to forgive or forget. A great king, a great man rises above such things.
King Henry VIII: And what would you know of great men?
Anne Boleyn: (Staring boldly) I've read enough books and heard enough talk to believe I'd know one if he were before me.
King Henry VIII: Then look about you. I am curious. Do you see one here?
Anne Boleyn: Looking my lord... still looking, my lord.
(Moving ever closer to the King)
Anne Boleyn: Ah! There. Found one.

Anne does indeed catch the King’s eye, like her sister before her. But unlike her sister, she does not melt under his attentions. She sends back his presents. She chides him for trying to seduce her, betraying both her sister, and his wife. She cuts him no slack, not even a feel.

And Henry is ensorcelled. So much so that even when Mary gives birth to a son, he does not acknowledge him, or her, to prove his love to Anne.

Well, the joy of the historical drama is that you know how its going to end. And it is a tangled story, and moderately well told. The film handles the matter of the allegations of incest well, and without sliding into horror.

Through it all, despite the fact Anne was an absolute B!tch to her, Mary always does what she thinks is right, and is always motivated by love for her sister. She was always the pawn, and Anne the Queen.

Of course, at the end of the game, the Queen had been lost in a gambit, and the pawn was still on the board…so you figure out who was the smart one, and who was the other Boleyn girl.

The production value on this movie is wonderful. The Costuming is Fabulous! Of course, the costuming on the top 1% in any culture is usually really nice. The music is well, there. No complaints, no compliments.

The Cast in impressive. I wish their performances universally were.

Natalie Portman ... Anne Boleyn An excellent performance. I was pleased to see Natalie get something that let her stretch just a little.

Scarlett Johansson ... Mary Boleyn. Somewhat wan and lack luster. Of course that also describes the character, so let’s give her the benefit of the doubt.

Eric Bana ... Henry Tudor. Not his best work. Not his worst. At least he was naked, sort of.

Jim Sturgess ... George Boleyn . Boring. He snivels, not always appropriately.

Mark Rylance ... Sir Thomas Boleyn. Weak, evil, one dimensional. I feel he could have done more.

Kristin Scott Thomas ... Lady Elizabeth Boleyn. Perhaps the best performance of the movie. The subtlety of her anger and disdain is wonderful.

David Morrissey ... Thomas Howard - Duke of Norfolk. Totally one dimensional…he was a domineering @$$...and that is all.

Benedict Cumberbatch ... William Carey. Weak showing. I was disappointed.

Oliver Coleman ... Henry Percy. A bit part, but nice.

Ana Torrent ... Katherine of Aragon. Once again, it is the women who shine, and the older, the better. I have always felt sympathy for poor old Kate, born too soon for her studly king, and doomed to be cast aside for something she can’t control.

Eddie Redmayne ... William Stafford. I like this young man. It was a small part, but he handled it well.

Michael Smiley ... Physician Furniture. As well regarded, and as interesting.

Juno Temple ... Jane Parker. A little snake, she pulled off the role.

The main problem with this movie is the plot holes…too much time passes between scenes, and some things are altered; Anne was something of a tramp in her day. Politics was not all she learned in France. Historical movies should just accept that they will be longer than usual. This one is not even two hours.

All in all, this movie missed its potential. If it had been three hours and they had lit a fire under some of the actors, it might have been great.

Recommend this product? Yes

Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Better than Watching TV
Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age

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