What do you do with a historical drama that lacks history and drama?
Led by strong performances by Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie, the film’s script and directoral leadership prevented it from becoming the definitive epic it wanted to become. Beginning by showing us the moments leading up to Mary’s beheading, the stakes of the conflicts depicted never reached a level of import that would necessitate that death.
Perhaps in 2018 it is important to develop the idea of what might happen should a Catholic take the English throne, because the divide between the two queens never reached beyond the ideological.
The scripts contained many lines that were never followed with action that might reflect their accuracy. For all of the discussion of the power of the women, they never acted powerfully. They were frequently pawns of the men around them. After asking her new husband if he is afraid as they ride into battle, his negative response evokes a line that, as paraphrased, says, “Good. Our swords are meant to be used.” They are never used.
The result is a film full of talk and little actual action. Much has been and will be said about the historical accuracy. As this is not within my realm of knowledge, I will let others sort that out. What I will say is that the film could have been far more than it is if the script were stronger and the action allowed to build on screen.
It is pretty - and far better, to me, than The Favourite - but, if you are looking for a queen movie, allow me to suggest Bohemian Rhapsody.