Movie review: Ronan steals the show in Mary Queen Of Scots
This would have been a failed project if not for Saoirse Ronan.
The 24-year-old Irish-American actress is born with an amazing on-screen presence, and it is her powerful charisma that drives this uneven period flick forward.
I don't know much about British history, especially this particular tussle between Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth I. But those familiar with the tale will know that Elizabeth ordered Mary's beheading because of an assassination plot.
That said, as you watch how this drama unfolds, you instinctively realise much creative licence has been employed. The plot follows history in broad strokes.
Mary, being the only living legitimate child of King James V, ascended the throne when only six days old in 1542. She later became the Queen consort of France through marriage.
The story picks up after a newly-widowed Mary (Ronan) returns to Scotland from France. She soon begins her uphill quest to reclaim her title and her freedom.
She does not get much support from her male-dominated court as they cannot stand being ruled by a woman, especially such a young one.
Then there is England, which cannot see a Catholic Queen. Mary's Protestant cousin Elizabeth I, The Virgin Queen (Margot Robbie), sits on the British throne.
But Mary is an intelligent and iron-willed woman, one who is unafraid to confront her enemies and saboteurs head on, even if it calls for a war or means being sexually abused.
The problem with the film is that it comes across like a soap opera, thus failing to grip you fully.
It is marketed as a rivalry between the two monarchs, but there is no girlfight here, unlike the other English royalty flick The Favourite, which sees two scheming ladies vying for the affection of Queen Anne.
The tension between Mary and Elizabeth is far more drawn out. The two meet only towards the end of the film, and only in one scene that is way too melodramatic.
Robbie excels as the Queen who is jealous of Mary's sassiness and beauty, but it is the sensational Ronan who rules the day. She stands out gloriously in the company of men, even when she walks to the chopping block. - 3 Ticks
MOVIE: Mary Queen Of Scots
STARRING: Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie, Guy Pearce, Jack Lowden, Joe Alwyn
DIRECTOR: Josie Rourke
THE SKINNY: The charismatic Mary Stuart (Ronan) returns from France to her native Scotland to reclaim her rightful throne after being widowed at 18, but Scotland and England are under the rule of Elizabeth I (Robbie). Thus begins a war of power between the two rival ''sisters''.