Mary Queen of Scots - Film review (3 out of 5)

Mary Queen of Scots
Mary Queen of Scots

It’s good to see Mary Queen of Scots have a sympathetic viewpoint, she’s certainly had her critics down the years.

They say history is written by the victors and Mary had enemies both in and outside of Scotland.

Director Josie Rourke shows the woman to have struggled and lost in a world where men were the dominant force.

The fact that Elizabeth survived and reigned for so long was down to her ability to put up a ‘gender neutral’ facade - so no marriage and no children.

Mary tried to have it all and lost everything.

Saoirse Ronan has been wanting to take on the role for quite a while and she definitely produces a Mary we can sympathise with.

Abused and manipulated, she is finally a rather sad figure.

Where the film falls down a bit for me, though, is Margot Robbie as Good Queen Bess.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Robbie is an excellent actor. and has lit up many a film she’s appeared in.

But Elizabeth I was a highly complex character and there’s not enough time for her character here to develop fully.

We also need to address the elephant in the room that the film has thrown up.

It’s highly unlikely the two royal cousins met but the film has a scene with them secretly coming together for a discussion.

The way this is shot is clearly more of a ‘what if...’ moment than trying to change history. Even so, it didn’t really work for me.

The rest of the cast is strong and I particularly liked David Tennant as a ranting John Knox, inciting congregations to hate Mary.

Overall, this is entertaining enough with some strong performances but left me a little underwhelmed.

Film details: Mary Queen of Scots (15) 124mins

Director: Josie Rourke

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie, Jack Lowden

Screening courtesy of Horsham Capitol