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  • Writer's pictureMax Markowitz

Mary Queen of Scots

"Bold and Beautiful"

I have absolutely no idea how much of Mary Queen of Scots is true. I suspect a giant portion of it is completely and intentionally made up and you know what? I don’t care. It doesn’t make one single bit of difference to me. That is how brilliant and bold and beautiful this jewel of a film is. It’s just a bonus that it could not have come out at better time as female empowerment is more important than ever. Not just in politics but in the motion picture industry. I am therefore delighted to announce that the directional debut of Josie Rourke is a spark of genius crafted delicately and creatively by those who embrace the power of what cinema has offered us viewers all these years.

The film closely examines the friendship between Mary Stuart and Queen Elizabeth 1 when Mary returns to Scotland to claim her inherited throne early as a result of being recently widowed. The friendship is threatened when Mary asserts her claim to the English throne threatening Elizabeth's sovereignty. These two women are played with the utmost of talent and beauty by the wonderful Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie. Their rivalry is so heartbreaking as it is not sincere rivalry but something ugly that was crafted out of pressure ignorant men push onto them. They see themselves as sisters but in a time when woman had no power, they politically cannot treat each other as such.

Ronan has always held such empathy towards those who suffer in her performances and her role in this film is a beautiful reminder of why everyone loves her. Robbie’s performance is transformative and surprising as one would probably not picture the tough Elizabeth I to allow herself to feel such pressure from her advisors, but Elizabeth is only human. Robbie perfectly captures the struggles Elizabeth is emotionally incapable of shaking off herself. Ronan and Robbie are only in one scene together in the entire film. Most viewers will see it as a confrontation scene. I see it as a shattering portrait of two women coming together in anguish towards the world, they fought so hard for has become. The misogyny that they both have to contend with is so blood boiling I actually feel guilty to look at myself in the mirror.

The brilliance of this film is also thanks to the fact that it’s 125 minutes long. Perfection needs room to fly and Josie Rourke gave it a long airport runway for it to soar like diamonds into the heavens. Upon bringing up her name again, I am thrilled to be so young as I’m sure this incredible woman will direct many, many, more emotionally provoking films that I and many other audiences will cherish maturity and therefore more deeply.

The films achievements in production design, hair and makeup and costume design is not to be ignored. Not by me and I’m sure not by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The costumes were just beaming with radiance and elegance. The hair and makeup is remarkable. Both Ronan and Robbie’s faces were the perfect canvases to help paint this tragic tale. The production design was envious to anyone wishing to travel. The landscapes of Scotland were shown so many times, I can’t count them all and the castles were beautiful. I loved them. They are right out of a picture book. At many moments, I found myself wanting to teleport myself into the film and explore all around me.

Mary Queen of Scots is one of those period pieces that’s full of culture and enrichment. The film injects you with emotion. I’ll cherish it always just as Mary and Elizabeth vowed to cherish their kingdoms.

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