The promotion material for Mary Queen of Scots might give you the impression that it is a story of a royal battle between the two women but that’s not what the film is about.
Set in 1561, a recently widowed 18-year-old Catholic Mary returns to Scotland from France, where she’s immediately opposed by the Protestants and her brother due to her gender and religion. Her return also threatens the unmarried Protestant Queen of England Elizabeth’s claim to the throne, leading her to attempt to gain control of Mary with the urging of her advisers. Elizabeth decides to send her lover to wed Mary in order to proceed with her plan.
Historically inaccurate, Mary Queen of Scots is a modern take on a book by John Guy. The writers take creative licence throughout the story to depict social matters which are still relevant today, including treatment of gay people and women in the society in order to appeal to audiences.
While the film has a few notably powerful scenes and is enjoyable to watch, overall, it is largely forgettable once the credits starts to roll. Unfortunately, Josie Rourke’s directorial style adds pacing issues to the plot while it also jumps years in the timeline without letting the audience know.
The relationship and face to face meeting between Elizabeth and Mary should’ve been a pivotal moment in the film, however, it falls flat without much excitement or anticipation. The cinematography is delightful but the scene between the two actors is poorly executed
Rourke’s theater background is on full display as each scene are more grand and detail focused than many other period pieces. The costumes and set designs are a highlight with their beautiful dark tones as they add more soul to the struggling script.
Another highlight is Saoirse Ronan’s great performance as Mary. She is intensely likable even in moments where her character is questionable. Margo Robbie does the best with what she has but at least we know she can rock a big nose.
Mary Queen of Scots is not about two women fighting for the throne, but a battle against patriarchy. It is a nice movie as long as you know what to expect. 6/10
Mary Queen of Scots is in cinemas now.