Bow To No One
For her directorial debut, “Mary Queen of Scots”, Josie Rourke elected to tackle the story of Mary Stuart in sixteenth century as she navigates her duties as Queen of Scots and her claim to the English throne. Upon being widowed, Mary (Saoirse Ronan) returns home to her native Scotland as she assumes her place as Queen. In England, Elizabeth I (Margot Robbie) worries about her “sister” as she fears of her claim to the Throne. In an effort to control her desires, Elizabeth offers her a husband, nobleman Robert Dudley (Joe Alwyn) to attempt to persuade her. Aware of her deceitful desires, Mary instead opts to marry Lord Darnley (Jack Lowden). As this strengthens her claim and makes her offspring the rightful heir, Elizabeth ignites a war alongside Mary’s traitorous brother; but to no avail. With the fate of Scotland lying in the balance, treason is rampant and Mary soon finds herself unable to trust anyone. Her only concern, the survival of her son James; in-hopes that he would one day rule England and Scotland together.
Let me start by saying, bravo! Not only is “Mary Queen of Scots” an excellent film, it’s crafted with so much care for the even the most minute detail. Perhaps the most impressive feat is that it is Rourke’s first film; some people make films for years without ever achieving success. “Mary Queen of Scots” focuses on both Mary and her cousin Elizabeth I, Queen of England (though Mary is the film’s primary protagonist). The ever-charming Ronan continues to propel herself to incredible heights, as she is captivating and stunning as the young, cunning Queen of Scots; this is truly a role she was destined to perform. Robbie is brilliant as the fragile, mysterious Queen Elizabeth I. “Mary Queen of Scots” also includes an excellent supporting cast as well, featuring the performances of Alwyn and Lowden, as well as David Tennant, Guy Pearce, Gemma Chan, Martin Compston, and James McArdle. While the film revolves around our two leads, much of the film showcases the beauty of Scotland’s countryside.
Brilliantly-filmed by John Mathieson, the actions of the characters is artfully-crafted to include wide angle shots; creating awe-inspiring visuals that add wonders to the film. Also accompanying this incredible cast and gorgeous scenery is a haunting, melodic masterpiece of a score from Max Richter; I found the leitmotif constantly playing in my head after I left the theater and even while I was writing this review! What Rourke has crafted here is truly special and will garner plenty of praise and accolades, deservedly so. At 124 minutes, the film constantly grabs your attention and keeps you completely invested in the story from beginning to end; even if you know how this tale ends. While I cannot speak to the absolute historical accuracy of the film, I can thoroughly say that this film is an enthralling, remarkable history lesson filled with tension, featuring astonishing performances, breathtaking cinematography, and a beautiful score; fitting for this tale of monarchy! Make sure you take this dazzling journey and go see “Mary Queen of Scots”!
MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS is rated R for some violence and sexuality, in theaters DECEMBER 14TH!