Ben has seen… Mary Queen of Scots

It is perhaps a little unfortunate that Mary Queen of Scots has arrived only a fortnight after the extraordinary The Favourite, with all its accompanying awards buzz. However, despite not being as daring with form or as provocatively irreverent, it is a film that is just as original and interesting.

Both films, as good historical fiction should, use the past as a way of looking at, or reflecting, the present. Mary Queen of Scots is a film concerned with how women can use power and how power affects women. (At the risk of labouring the point I made in yesterday’s blog post, this may, in part, account for the relatively lukewarm response to the film from some male critics). However, it is not the queen v queen/royal rumble/epic standoff that so much of the marketing suggests it is. There is no simple, good vs evil, plot that moves us toward the inevitable ending. There are villains (John Knox for example, played by a wonderfully bearded David Tennant, is an absolute helmet) but it isn’t one thing that brings Mary to the tower but many, including herself. Knowing there can be very little in the way of surprise at the movie’s conclusion, it instead concentrates on portraying the complexities of fate.

Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie are, as you might imagine, great as Mary and Elizabeth…

I mean, I could go on, but I suspect you made your mind up weeks ago about seeing this or not. I’m wasting my time really. Do whatever makes you happy, I guess.

I really need to read a book about how to review films or something. It’s more difficult than I thought.