Mary Queen of Scots tells the story of Queen Mary who rules over Scotland. The film focuses on her relationship with Queen Elizabeth, which becomes complicated. I was excited to see this film due to how great the two leads, Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie, looked in their roles. Also, the visuals in the trailers looked very good. I’m really not sure why the critical response isn’t higher, the current score on Rotten Tomatoes is 62%, which I think is low after seeing it.
The performances given are all top notch. Saoirse Ronan blew me away as Mary. I’ll be honest by saying that I haven’t seen any of her films besides this, but this is all I needed to see to be convinced of her talent. She conveys Mary’s strength and unwavering bravery so well, I was captivated by her spirit. Margot Robbie’s Elizabeth is very powerful as well. Robbie plays her with both a softness and a toughness. I love a scene that involves Elizabeth and her romantic interest as it shows how raw she is emotionally. There are other great performances including: Guy Pearce, Joe Alwyn, Ismael Cruz Cordova and more.
The chemistry between all the actors really works too. The main scene between Mary and Elizabeth is incredibly powerful; one of the most effective scenes I’ve seen this year. In addition to the chemistry between the leads, I loved the interactions between Mary and her attendants. Ismael Cordova is the main one that makes an impact in that department, I can’t give away why but just know that his character and events surrounding him are extremely moving.
The pacing is done well, it tells the story in an entertaining way and is never dull. Something I worry about when it comes to period pieces the movie will be dull, but there is no part of Mary Queen of Scots that is boring. There is a common theme of sexism and using fundamentalism as a deadly weapon that runs throughout this film, and while it is sad and very hard to see, I love that it’s handled well. They aren’t heavy handed about messaging, but the sexist feelings are made abundantly clear through events that go on. It’s really a profound experience to see how the men in this film do everything to undermine and take Mary down simply because of their rage about a female leader. While it is not pleasant to see, it is vital to the story and gives it a more layered meaning.
The script is masterfully written. It gives these queens so much depth as people and adds layers onto the story. The issues of sexism and radical religious dogma are embedded in the writing in clever and haunting ways. And don’t think that it’s a social justice type thing or that these issues are shoehorned in. They are very important to the overall story and ultimately to the connection between Mary and Elizabeth.
Other things that I really enjoyed here were the hair and makeup and costume design. This should for sure at least get an Academy Award nomination for both of those categories because, wow, it’s so perfectly done. The visuals are nice too, very beautiful directing. The ending is incredibly powerful, it leaves you with a lasting feeling. I felt like I’d really seen something special when the credits began to roll, and that’s how I know they pulled off what they were going for. A story like this can either be a slog to get through or a powerful experience that you’ll remember, this is the latter.
Treat yourself and go see this film, I can’t imagine you’ll regret it, and this is coming from someone who doesn’t usually care for these types of films.