Newest Review: ... clumsy, awkward catalogue of historical and literary inaccuracies being passed off as cheap voyeurism made me turn off the DVD playe... more
Don't. Just Don't.
The Other Boleyn Girl  (DVD)
Member Name: missrarr
The Other Boleyn Girl  (DVD)
Advantages: I suppose the sight of Scarlet in a corset will aid anything
Disadvantages: Pretty much everything else
It should have been a thing of sublimity. The controlled, dark beauty of Natalie Portman, the more obvious, sensuous attraction of Scarlet Johansson, and dark ominous power of Eric Bana and their combined brilliance at acting - crafted into a film about passion, love, ambition, politics, and survival.
So how, how on earth, did it all go so wrong?
For the uninitiated - and I recommend that you remain thus - this is based (and by 'eck do I mean 'based') on the book of the same title by Philippa Gregory. The book took historical liberties but was an enjoyable tale; the premise being that Anne Boleyn's ultimately ill-fated seduction of Henry VIII into love and then marriage was preceded by the younger king taking fancy to her fairer sister Mary, who historical rumour would have it bore him two children - one of which was a son, the personification of his object of obsession for obvious reasons at the time. So we see, in the book, Mary's teenage infatuation with the man and then her family's ambition reducing her to a pawn in a chess game as she has to effectively school Anne into her own seduction of the monarch.
So it's a bold premise. You have a lot of emotions at play there, a great deal of historical and political importance and also the human element. Those characters were effectively taken off the page and entrusted to three of the finest actors of our time and the result is a glorious car crash. I don't hold the actors at fault here - but I can imagine their horror when they realised how the production they had signed up for would play out.
***SO WHAT WENT WRONG?***
Quite probably when they hired Justin Chadwick to direct it.
I'm sure he's a lovely bloke. But he is a TV director and this massive budget offering was his first ever feature film. And it is shot appallingly.
First off, it's barely even similar to the course of events as per the book - and the book took a few liberties of its own.
But far worse is the visual appearance.
The director seems to be obsessed with shooting "through" something. A doorframe, half a window still in shot, a rosebush, hedge, screen, anything. I'm sure that the implied signficance is that we are secretively looking in on both passion and history, but when I reached one notable scene in which the first, say, five shots were ALL through / impeded by something, I had to turn this off. It is so rare that I will do this - I've seen ALL of Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus, a film in which is a gigantic CGI shark EATS the Golden Gate bridge, and yet this weirdly clumsy, awkward catalogue of historical and literary inaccuracies being passed off as cheap voyeurism made me turn off the DVD player.
So to the acting. Is it awful because of the short scenes, the terrible camera work and the editing? Because we never get to see these three thespian powerhouses get into their respective full flow? Or is it because they are so stunned by in the insipid, passionless work that they find themselves undertaking? Where is the dangerous tension of the temper of the King, the volatile passion of Anne, and the unassuming innocence of the young girl who is not only already married, but should also surely be demonstrating mortal fear of her family that would put her in such a dangerous game. Not even the monumental talent that is Benedict Cumberbatch spared; for his role as William Carey, her husband, has lost the morose and sarcastic wit he showed as a character on page at his situation of having his new wife stolen from him and her being forced to make him a known cuckold at court, and is instead effectively a man without voice, another opportunity wasted.
In conclusion I think my anger with this production is summed up by my last sentence. Oppotunity wasted. That is what this film is. Something that should have been boiling over with chemistry, elegance, sumptuous seductive brilliance, passion, rage, fear and longing, ambition and survival. Taken on by a man who a check quick on IMDB makes you wonder if this production, and indeed its budget, had been wrongly attributed to "the guy who has done Eastenders and The Bill". He also directed Bleak House, a series which I understand to have been hugely popular, but after seeing this I would run a mile before someone could sit me down in front of that DVD. Attempted artistry by a guy who hasn't yet realised how to weird his most valuable implements - the sensational human talent and the writer's characters that are basically getting butchered here.
So this is a rare foray into a total rant rather than a review. One star? Good grief. Truly, without question, one of the worst films I have watched. And I've seen Sharknado. All of it. And that had Tara Reid.
Need I say any more?
Summary: If voyeurism does it for you just stalk your neighbour instead.