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May 3, 2019

Mary Queen of Scots (2018) --- "Born to Fight, Born to Power, Bow to No One. Two Queen, One Future."

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Hello, Movie Buffs! 
Queen of Scotland at 6 days old, Queen of France at 16, and widowed at 18, Mary Stuart continues to defy the pressures of the world around her. Instead of remarrying, Mary returns to her native Scotland to reclaim her rightful throne from under the rule of Queen Elizabeth I of England and hopefully usher in an era of peace between their two nations. Born of royal blood and separated by their beliefs and religion, each Queen considers the other as her sister and her rival, beholden in fascination and fear. As rivals in power, love, and as reigning Queens in man’s world, both Queens must decide how to play the game and rule as more than just figureheads. Betrayal, rebellion, and conspiracies within each court imperil the sisterhood as well as both thrones, threatening to change the course of history. Directed by Josie Rourke, written by Beau Willimon (Ides of March, House of Cards, The First), and based on the book Queen of Scots: The True Lie of Mary Stuart by John Guy, Mary Queen of Scots (2018) is a dramatic, gritty, and compelling story that showcases tumultuous relationship between two 16th Century Queens and how society always tries to pit them against each other.

   This is director Josie Rourke’s debut film and it is stunning. The story is rich, historically detailed, emotional, and chooses to follow a more dramatic narrative than a historical one. Despite knowing the story’s outcome from history, as the story unfolds and the game plan of each woman’s power is put on display watching certain events take place was gut-wrenchingly realistic. The film expertly takes you back to the 16th Century and gives you a taste of what it is like to have lived in that time or at least be a woman then. Much like the 16th century, the film is wholly vexed by the presence of men who consider “a woman with a crown is worse than a plague.” But at the same time, these men also provide much of the film’s twist and turns as well as acts as the film’s main antagonistic force. However, no matter how much the men scheme and disrupt the plans of our two leading ladies, there is one theme that continually cycles throughout the film, “the matters of the heart dictate the outcomes of countries.”
   Visually the film is a colorful and rich masterpiece. Yes, the film follows two major Queens, however, it does a great job in showcasing the distinct and different styles that each Queen had. For instance, you can see how Mary and Elizabeth wore different colors but they also wore different styles which were most likely influenced by the trends surrounding them, Elizabeth by England and Mary by France. In addition, the film also highlights that Elizabeth suffered from smallpox which left nasty scares leading her to cover her face with white paint, which was toxic to the skin and caused it to age even faster. The transformation of these two Queens from beginning to end in costume and makeup as well in performances is intriguing and captivating.
  The cast performances were solid, especially from Saoirse Ronan (Little Women, The Seagull) and Margot Robbie (I, Tonya, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The performances of Irish actress Saoirse Ronan’s as the defiant Mary Stuart and Australian actress Margot Robbie’s as the strong Elizabeth I are powerful, delicate, and carries a very modern viewpoint and strength that is very much needed in a period piece. The two play off each other quite well, despite spending the majority of the film apart from each other as well as outshine all the other roles around them. Aside from the two leading ladies, this film is filled with incredible talent, including David Tennant (Good Omens, Jessica Jones),, Jack Lowden (Fighting with Family), Ismael Cruz Cordova (Miss Bala), Martin Compston (The Aftermath), James McArdle (The Force Awakens), Guy Pierce (The Innocents), Gemma Chan (Crazy Rich Asians, Captain Marvel), Joe Alwyn (Operation Finale, The Favorite, Billy Lynn’s...), and more.

   Overall, Mary Queen of Scots (2018) is a dramatic, emotional, and realistic film about two defiant, delicate, and unapologetic Queens of the 16th century, Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots and Elizabeth Tudor I, Queen of England. Born of royal blood yet separated by religion and life choices, the film builds up to a climactic meeting that may or may not have taken place; while history says they never met, anything is possible. Visually the film is a colorful and rich masterpiece, and the cast performances were solid throughout, especially from Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie. Those who are fans of these historical figures and their contributions to history, Mary Queen of Scots (2019) is a new, exciting, and dramatic take that I am sure many will enjoy and even love. I highly recommend this film.

Final Vote --- 8 of 10 stars

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