Queen of France at sixteen and a widow by eighteen, Mary Stuart (Saoirse Ronan) returns to Scotland to claim the Scottish throne. However with both Scotland and England now ruled by her cousin Elizabeth (Margot Robbie), an uneasy negotiation ensues…
...a serene directorial glide through a highly turbulent passage of history.
Director Josie Rourke’s period drama which charts the turbulent relationship of two paranoid monarchs, brims with quality from its very first frame. From its superb lighting, seamless cinematography and effortless direction, ‘Mary Queen of Scots’ is a serene directorial glide through a highly turbulent passage of history.
In the titular role of Mary, Saoirse Ronan commands the screen with both regal impatience and yet a youthful approachability. Seen in contrast to Margot Robbie’s stifled Elizabeth, who is already trapped inside a steel lung of servitude, Mary’s openness is a threat to both those who fear her and those who would serve her.
Set in the 1500’s when the ability to produce an heir to the throne was paramount, Beau Willimon’s script is fleet of fanciful words and high on ‘House of Cards’ intrigue. With both women’s biological destinies now the playthings of others, each queen quickly find themselves made pawns on a male-dominated political chessboard. With duplicitous performances from Guy Pearce, Iain Hart, Brendan Coyle and a rabble-rousing David Tennant, ‘Mary Queen of Scots’ becomes a drama that is more about sexual manipulation than the forging of royal dynasties.
With its deft direction and faultless eye for detail, this is a handsome production that will inevitably draw comparisons with previous historical epics. In a lead role previously played by such luminaries as Katherine Hepburn, Vanessa Redgrave, Samantha Morton and Kathy Burke, Saoirse Ronan’s is a Mary that can justifiably hold her head high. Like its depicted monarch, regal and yet remorseful, when the final scene falls, you be left with a movie that will wipe away the memory of many lesser dramas.