Sunday, March 02, 2008

Review: The Other Boleyn Girl

So, I must admit to being a Tudor-holic. I have always been interested in, fascinated by, and obsessed with Henry VIII, his six wives, and his children - particularly his daughter, Elizabeth - with whom I share a name and red hair. I've eaten up PBS' "The Six Wives of Henry VIII," Alison Weir's many biographies, the many Elizabeth movies, and lately, the works of Philippa Gregory. Recently, I read her fictionalized history, "The Other Boleyn Girl," loved it, and was very excited to see the film adaptation.

The novel is lengthy, delicious in its minute detail of courtly live in the time of Henry VIII. Gregory's descriptions of the clothing, the food, the protocol, is wonderful. I knew that the film wouldn't be able to recreate Gregory's work, but hoped for a reasonable facsimile. Alas, in the interest of time, many details are omitted - some of which were important to the plot (for example, Mary's first husband totally disappears, with no information on his death - she merely remarries with no mention of the unfortunate William Carey)

The story: the Boleyn family is ambitious, and hopes that the unhappily married king will show interest in one of their daughters. While intrigued at first by the elder daughter, Anne (Natalie Portman), Henry (Eric Bana) instead begins an affair with her married sister Mary (Scarlett Johansson). Mary falls in love with Henry, bears him a son, while Anne plots to gain his favor. His obsession with Anne causes him to break with the Catholic Church, begin the Church of England, divorce his wife Catherine of Aragon, and marry Anne. That ends tragically when Anne is tried for treason and beheaded.

The editing on the film is rough - it seems to jump scenes. No mention of Mary's first husband's death. Much fictionalizing about the claim of an incestuous relationship between Anne and her brother George. And the whole story line about George's homosexual relations is omitted. But, gorgeous costumes, good period detail, good performances. Bana is believable as Henry - although Henry was a redhead. Portman and Johansson are good as the sisters - credible accents.

I love a good costume drama, with much melodrama. This satisfies those requirements. It really helped to have read the book and to have been familiar with Tudor history - those who don't have such a background might feel lost at times. But if you want to get lost in 115 minutes of period drama, this is the film for you.

And in other news - my root canal seemed to go okay on Friday. This morning, however, I woke up to a chipmunk cheek and some tenderness. Not sure if this is normal. Off to "self-medicate"



Blogger Ted D said...

Feel better, Beth.

And I'm pretty sure I'll see this film on the first of never.

Unless Ang decides she wants to watch it, and then I'll let you know.

9:36 PM  

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