A right royal romp

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film Reviews - MICHAEL DWYER

THE OTHER BO­LEYN GIRL Di­rected by Justin Chad­wick. Star­ring Natalie Port­man, Scar­lett Jo­hans­son, Eric Bana, Kristin Scott Thomas, Jim Sturgess, Mark Ry­lance, David Mor­ris­sey, Ana Tor­rent 15A cert, gen re­lease, 115 min

THE ob­ser­va­tion that po­lice­men are get­ting younger all the time could be ap­plied to the re­cent screen in­car­na­tions of King Henry VIII, whose mar­i­tal machi­na­tions con­tinue to fas­ci­nate screen­writ­ers.

For gen­er­a­tions, the monarch was played by ac­tors of bulky or bulked-up ap­pear­ance: Charles Laughton, Robert Shaw, Richard Bur­ton, Ray Win­stone, and even Sid­ney James in Carry On Henry. Nowa­days the ten­dency is to­wards sex­ing up Henry through cast­ing cuter, thin­ner ac­tors – Jonathan Rhys Mey­ers in The Tu­dors and now Eric Bana in The Other Bo­leyn Girl.

The chal­lenge of hav­ing so many pro­duc­tions about the same few roy­als, as the re­cent El­iz­a­beth: The Golden Age demon­strated, is to make such familiar ma­te­rial seem fresh or in­ter­est­ing. On The Other Bo­leyn Girl, that chal­lenge de­feats the gen­er­ally per­cep­tive and dra­mat­i­cally re­source­ful Peter Morgan, a screen­writer whose pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with power bro­kers is ev­i­dent from The Queen and The Last King of Scot­land.

Un­wisely, Morgan opts for a sur­pris­ingly soapy treat­ment of the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Henry VIII, Anne Bo­leyn (Natalie Port­man), who be­came his sec­ond wife, and her younger sis­ter, Mary (Scar­lett Jo­hans­son).

Based on a Philippa Gre­gory novel, Morgan’s screen­play de­picts Mary as noble, lov­ing and saintly, and Anne as sly, smirk­ing and vin­dic­tive. In seek­ing royal favour and ad­vance­ment at a palace where the dreaded words for any preg­nant con­sort are “It’s a girl”, Anne ap­pears to be as de­ter­mined and cal­cu­lat­ing as her fa­ther (Mark Ry­lance) and un­cle, the Duke of Nor­folk (David Mor­ris­sey).

The king’s es­tab­lish­ment of the Church of Eng­land to fa­cil­i­tate his di­vorce from Catherine of Aragon (Ana Tor­rent). as well as his ex­com­mu­ni­ca­tion by Rome, are paid scant at­ten­tion in a sce­nario ob­sessed with bed-hop­ping, even though this is han­dled more coyly than in The Tu­dors. The movie pays its clos­est at­ten­tion to recre­at­ing the pe­riod in the ex­em­plary work of cos­tume de­signer Sandy Pow­ell and Ir­ish art di­rec­tor John-Paul Kelly.

Jo­hans­son suf­fers ad­mirably as Mary, but Port­man and Bana are se­ri­ously mis­cast in a movie that merely goes through the mo­tions as it re­hashes and plays with his­tory. Its fa­mil­iar­ity does not breed con­tempt, but it cer­tainly prompts te­dium.

Tu­dor te­dium: Eric Bana and Scar­lett Jo­hans­son

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.