Their battle to keep on top of their own nation is as strong as the battle against each others, and that edge gives Mary Queen Of Scots its greatest asset

Mary Queen Of Scots often appears as more art than film. A production with the complexion of skill, craftsmanship and beauty, it has developed into a stunning take on the story many know of, but few know in depth. But with this superficial layer glazed across the feature’s front, it’s inevitably used to cover up some of the more rooted flaws from its lengthy and arduous creation stage.

Mary (Saoirse Ronan) returns to Scotland from France. The cousin of Queen Elizabeth I (Margot Robbie), Mary has a strong claim to the English throne, and Elizabeth fears a challenge from the north. Relations between the two nations begin fair, but as each leader is drawn into complicated power struggle, the pair cannot help but fight against each other’s will.

Much of the criticism of the film stems from the core inaccuracies in Mary Queen Of Scots’ historical flow, leaving a bitter taste even when it comes to artistic license. As discovered with Netflix’s Outlaw King, there is a level of truth that period dramas of such stature need to show, to stop complaints from rising to fruition. Mary Queen Of Scots has certainly pushed its luck, becoming a blot on an otherwise consistent production.

Mary Queen Of Scots 2

The costumes and makeup absolutely stand out as industry leading, and visually, Mary Queen Of Scots becomes a raw and inviting take on the story. Director Josie Rourke has refused to hide from the truth of the ailments and injuries that plagued the characters of the story, particularly Elizabeth, which fuels the frustration that comes with the inaccurate plot.

Above all else however, Ronan and Robbie show just how tremendous they are, even in the most vibrant of roles. Both performances encapsulate different variations of strong willed women, contrasting their personalities against a backdrop of a social scene controlled entirely by men. Their battle to keep on top of their own nation is as strong as the battle against each others, and that edge gives Mary Queen Of Scots its greatest asset. The thirst for power is very much the film’s driving force.

Too much of the dialogue is long winded and overly scripted, with the historical inaccuracies adding to make strong flaws, but undeniably Mary Queen Of Scots is an enthralling feature. Without a shadow of a doubt it is made by its most emotional scene: The meeting between the two queens. It may never have taken place in truth, but as far as the film goes it is the most fascinating of scenes, bringing together a long feature that feels complete and accomplished once the queens have exchanged bitter and heartfelt words.

4/5

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