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Other Boleyn Girl

1 rating: 1.0
A movie directed by Justin Chadwick

Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson star as Anne and Mary Boleyn in this adaptation of the bestselling novel by Philippa Gregory. While their story is perhaps one of history's most well known, THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL has fun with the facts, creating … see full wiki

Tags: Movies, Dramas
Director: Justin Chadwick
Release Date: 2008
MPAA Rating: PG-13
1 review about Other Boleyn Girl

The Abridged Version of a Noble Beheading

  • Oct 12, 2008
Pros: Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman’s performances.

Cons: See Review

The Bottom Line: See it, its entertaining, abridged but entertaining nonetheless.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.

Any fan of the Showtime series The Tutors is very familiar with England’s King Henry VIII and his torrid affair with one Ann Boleyn that resulting in the young queen being deprived of her head. What I didn’t realize—and probably many others watching the series—is that show is based loosely upon a historical novel called Other Boleyn Girl, written by a spectacularly prolific, and perfectly charming British author named Philippa Gregory.

The book spawned a movie of the same title staring Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson as Ann and Mary Boleyn in memorable roles. We know all about Ann, but the book and this movie posit that Mary was the first Boleyn girl to share Henry’s bed and have his child, a son; hence the title The Other Boleyn Girl (2008).

The Story

Directed by Justin Chadwick (Bleak House) with screenplay by Peter Morgan (Henry VIII, The Last King of Scotland, The Queen) The Other Boleyn Girl starts at the beginning as Katherine of Aragon, the Queen of England (Ana Torrent) miscarries yet another child of Henry VIII a.k.a. Henry Tudor (Eric Bana – Black Hawk Down, Troy, Lucky You). Furious that he has lost yet another male heir to the throne from the womb of his Queen the King lets be known that he is casting about for another to carry his male heir.

Sensing a golden opportunity, Sir Thomas Howard, The Duke of Norfolk (David Morrissey) and his brother Sir Thomas Boleyn (Mark Rylance) hatch a plan to basically pimp Ann Boleyn, the oldest daughter, off on the King. This is of course over the objections of Lady Elizabeth Boleyn (Kristin Scott Thomas), but the men have their way and Ann is all too willing to play along if it means a higher station for herself.

But their plans go sideways when the King is thrown from his horse while riding with Ann, and is nurse back to health—at the insistence of Thomas Howard—by Mary who has just married. The King is smitten and insists Mary come to Court where he can bed her.

Needless to say there are many more plot twists that eventually land Ann in the Kings arms and ultimately to the chopping block.

My Thoughts

The Other Boleyn Girl is adroitly directed and superbly acted, especially by Natalie Portman who is always a joy to watch, and Scarlett Johansson whose unconventional beauty never fails to light up the screen. But in the end the movie could not even begin to relay the intricate story of the book in anything close to exacting detail. Nevertheless, The Other Boleyn Girl is enjoyable and great fun to watch if only to see Portman add yet another chapter to her already formidable body of acting chops.

The screenplay barely does justice to the intricate inner workings of the social and familial English geography, but does whet the appetite for more. Scarlett Johansson portrays Mary as a sweet, earnest young woman who at first is unwilling to assent to her male elders and the King, but eventually falls for the boorish yet charming Henry.

Natalie Portman portrays Anne as an intelligent, brazen, and willful woman who is too skilled in the art of political maneuvering and interpersonal manipulation for her own good. They, along with their brother George (Jim Sturgess), are moved about the chess board that is the English Court like pawns by their greedy father and uncle.

Eric Bana’s portrayal of the lustful and infatuated Tudor king, he who would change the face and course of England, and indeed the world, is a bit subdued and lacking in enthusiasm, while the rest of the cast turned in a masterful collective performance.

In the end, The Other Boleyn Girl by its almost laser focus on the threesome between the Ann, Henry Tudor, and Mary, omits in its entirety Henry`s break with the overbearing Catholic Church and declaration of the independent Church of England in order to divorce his Queen and marry Ann. This break is a necessary component to all the unhampered nation building and pursuit of England`s colonial global empire the country saw under Queen Elizabeth, Henry’s and Ann’s daughter. It also sets the stage for the age of Protestant ascent in England that would later divide the English/Irish landscape.

But, perhaps the movie was not supposed to, nor could it tackle the intricate drama that was Henry Tudor’s England in just two hours; the Showtime series, The Tudors does a much better job at that. The Other Boleyn Girl is entertaining enough for what it is…


Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Good Date Movie
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older

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