Josie Rourke’s historical drama chronicles the life of Mary, Queen of Scotland (Saoirse Ronan) after her return to England in 1561, and the friction between herself and Queen Elizabeth, (Margot Robbie) who realises that Mary is a very viable threat and has a strong claim to the throne.
I found this film to be a mixed bag. I can’t deny that it is a well made film with excellent performances, but I can’t help but feel underwhelmed overall. This is mainly due to the fact that this film is incredibly dull… I found it strange, because the film is a very slow burner, yet in some sections it still felt rushed. I don’t know a great deal about this part of history and at times I feel like the film assumes that the viewer knows the context and the details of the events that occurred, so certain moments are glossed over and pushed through like they’re on a production line and not given enough substance. I found this to be quite off-putting and it hindered my overall investment in the story.
My prime example has to be Mary’s marriage to Lord Darnley, it happens so quickly that it’s hard to buy their romance and feeling for each other, the amount of time between their initial introduction and their marriage is so small that it shocked me. There is so much to cram into this film that there are a lot of moments that feel like this, which for me, gave the film a rather choppy, messy feeling. I just found my interest to be dwindling to the point that I couldn’t wait for the film to end.
There are some positives, however, and that mainly comes down to the performances of the two “leads”. I word it like this because Margot Robbie is absent for a lot of the film and the marketing was definitely misleading in regards to her involvement. Ronan carries the film and she is definitely going to have a great career going forward, and Robbie is her usual brilliant self when she is given screen time. The supporting cast are all solid and nobody really seems out of place and I can’t pinpoint any bad performances, so that’s good!
But, unfortunately, I can’t recommend this film unless you’ve got a great interest in this period of history. If you do, then you’ll probably enjoy it a lot more than I did, but if you’re a casual viewer like myself, I imagine you’ll probably find yourself as bored as I was, I was totally uninvested in the story and I’m still trying to work out how such a dull, slow film still felt painfully rushed at times. If it ever pops up on Netflix or Amazon one day, it might be worth a watch if you’ve got nothing better to do, but until then, save your money and go and see something else.
I give Mary Queen of Scots a 5.5/10.