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The Other Boleyn Girl
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The Other Boleyn Girl – Review

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

We all know about Ann Boleyn and her marriage to King Henry VIII, but this movie is about her sister, Mary, who according to Phillippa Gregory’s novel, was the first to bed the King – and she even bore him a child.
Mary (Johansson) was already married when Henry (Bana) came for a hunting a visit at her family’s house. Her father, Sir Thomas Boleyn (Rylance), and uncle, the Duke of Norfolk (Morrissey), had ambitious plan for this visit.
They ordered Ann (Natatlie Portman) to bewitch the King, so he would take her as his mistress and ultimately replace his current wife, Catherine of Aragon (Torrent), who failed to produce an heir.
The plan backfires and the King falls for Mary and invites her to his court as a lady-in-waiting. A disgruntled Ann accompanies Mary to the court and while Mary becomes the king’s mistress, Ann secretly betroths a nobody, consequently angering her family.
Sir Thomas banishes Ann to France, but when the king begins to lose interest in Mary, Ann is called back from France to help her sister.
Ann, however, has other plans. Driven by vengeance she seduces the king and persuades him to leave her sister. Then she makes him abandon the Catholic church and divorce his wife.
Soon though, the tide turns against Ann and she desperately seeks her sister’s assistance to save her marriage – and her life.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

Although, Mary comes through as the emotional centre of the story, with her tender love and genuine feelings, Ann dominates the story most of the time and propels it forward, which is incongruous with the movie’s title. “The Boleyn Sisters” seems like a more apt title than “The Other Boleyn Girl”.
Having said that, Peter Morgan (who also wrote The Queen) has created a gripping, fast moving script with sharp dialogue and compelling characters. Even the supporting characters were interesting.
Those characters are brought to life by outstanding performances from the cast. Eric Bana, an Australian, Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson, Americans, play their English roles convincingly and deliver riveting performances. The rest of the cast are equally impressive.
The movie was shot on HD rather than film and, unlike Shekhar Kapur’s “Elizabeth”, it does have a TV feel to it. However, the director conjures up vivid imagery from 16th century England with thundering horses, flapping banners, folk dancing in rich costumes and rolling bloody heads.
If you are not perturbed by the fact that Bana looks nothing like the fat, hairy blond Henry VIII and Natalie Portman bears little resemblance to Ann Boleyn, and you don’t mind historical inconsistencies then this is a thoroughly entertaining and engaging movie.

Opens nationwide 7th March 2008

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