57 of 63 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Other Boleyn Girl - Surprising Period Piece About An En Vogue Topic
The Other Boleyn Girl is bound to give historian's mixed feelings, and has elicited a wide range of reactions from audiences. It benefit's from and adds to the interest surrounding King Henry VIII's royal court. Showtime's Tudors miniseries has heightened interest in all things related to English royal history.
Yet the writers have taken enough artistic...
Published on March 8, 2008 by Mark
58 of 63 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fans of the book will be majorly disappointed
As a standalone movie, "The Other Boleyn Girl" is okay....not great, but okay. However, as someone who is a die-hard fan of Philippa Gregory's novel, I wasn't at all impressed with this film adaptation.
The problem with this movie is that the script sucks, pure and simple. Obviously, the basic plot is the same as the book: The young Mary Boleyn (Scarlett...
Published on March 1, 2008 by Melissa Niksic
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58 of 63 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fans of the book will be majorly disappointed,
The problem with this movie is that the script sucks, pure and simple. Obviously, the basic plot is the same as the book: The young Mary Boleyn (Scarlett Johansson) is commissioned by her ambitious family to cast her husband aside and become the mistress of King Henry VIII (Eric Bana) while her older sister, Anne (Natalie Portman), jealously looks on. Eventually Henry's eyes drift over to Anne, who replaces Mary as the favorite and embarks on a dangerous plan to replace Queen Katherine (Ana Torrent) on the throne of England.
Unfortunately, this movie doesn't capture the energy and passion of Gregory's brilliant novel. The pacing is tediously slow, and so many details of the plot were changed for the film, for no apparent reason at all. The Boleyn girls grow up at court, so the way Mary and Henry initially meet was rewritten in the film. Mary had two children by Henry, but only the boy is shown in the movie. Lady Boleyn (Kristin Scott Thomas) was reinvented for the screen and is portrayed as a woman who actually gives a crap about her children, but in the book she supports the use of her daughters as pawns in the family's quest for power. I didn't understand what happened to Mary's first husband in the movie...he just sort of wanders off-screen 15 minutes into the film and is never seen or heard from again. (In the book, he dies from the sweat, which is why Mary is later free to marry William Stafford.) What else? I was disappointed in the way the incest issue was handled in the film. I guess the producers assumed that it was too taboo of a topic for the movie, because they totally changed the way it was handled. Oh yes, and King Henry never raped Anne Boleyn in the novel, and he certainly didn't tire of her before he married her! That was so ridiculous.
There are many more discrepancies between the book and the film that I don't even have time to list, and they completely ruined what could have been an excellent film. Another thing that bothered me is the way the pacing constantly shifted. At times things moved very slowly, but then the plot jolted forward at lightning speed, especially toward the end of the film. Major historical events were glossed over and only mentioned in a sentence or two of dialogue, such as Katherine's banishment and the establishment of the Church of England. If you blink while watching this movie, you'll definitely miss something important.
This movie had all the makings of a hit. Visually, it's absolutely stunning. I especially loved all the brilliant costumes. Also, the performances by the actors were phenomenal. I was particularly enchanted by Portman's portrayal of Anne, which was completely on the mark. However, all of the actors were limited by a terrible script. It's such a shame.
I am so incredibly bummed about how crappy this film turned out to be. Do yourself a favor and read the book BEFORE you see the movie so you know what you're missing (that is, if you even want to bother with the movie at all).
132 of 150 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars But it is very pretty to watch...,
King Henry VIII (Eric Bana, in relatively little screen time) tires of Katherine of Aragon (Ana Torent) and her inability to bear a male heir. The Boleyn clan (Mark Rylance and Kristin Scott Thomas in collusion with the Duke of Norfolk David Morrissey) seize on Henry's frustration and serve up their daughters Anne (Natalie Portman) and Mary (Scarlett Johansson) to satisfy his dalliances. The younger Mary beds him first, does produce a son, but falls out of favor leaving Anne to work her newly honed skills of feminism learned during her exile in France on the easily seduced King to become his queen, yet is able to only bear him a daughter, Elizabeth. The results are tension in the castle, in the Boleyn family, and between the sisters Anne and Mary. History is molded by the writer to maintain more of a Hollywood soap opera that a recreation of fact and it all ends with beheadings and the child Elizabeth running gaily through sunny old meadows of England.
The actors all try to make us buy into this version of betrayal and lust and loathing, but the dialog (written by Peter Morgan) is tired and used and anything but in keeping with the period. But then, the movie is a collection of scenes that are very pretty to watch... Justin Chadwick directs. Grady Harp, March 08
57 of 63 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Other Boleyn Girl - Surprising Period Piece About An En Vogue Topic,
Yet the writers have taken enough artistic liberties to raise questions regarding the accuracy of these accounts. This story is based on the historical fiction novel The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. Despite the artistic liberties taken with the story it is very well put together and interesting to watch for those willing to broaden their historical views on the period.
The Story and the Acting
The story of King Henry VIII's many romantic exploits are well known. He married Catherine of Aragon for political gain, yet engaged in many well publicized affairs. Eventually, each of the Boleyn sisters landed in his crosshairs.
Eric Bana is very good as the king, though his isn't the best written role in the film. Anne Boleyn's character is dynamic and vindictive, and Natalie Portman shows her range here. Her sister Mary, played by Scarlett Johansson, catches the King's attention. Though she is newly married, her husband is disposed of and the King has soon added her to his list of conquests.
But Anna will not be outdone. She coyly preys upon the King's desires, and soon becomes the object of his affections.
All three of these actors put in strong performances. Johansson's role is understated and Bana's is exaggerated. Only Portman has a character with full range, both manipulative and vulnerable.
Jim Sturgess, whose star seems to be rising, has a somewhat understated role as the brother, George Boleyn. His role is ultimately manipulated by the powers that by to undermine Anne when her perceived value falls. He is perhaps the most under-utilized actor here, with few lines and a role not in keeping with the importance he played in history. Yet with his lead role in 21 to add to this one, he is clearly not hurting for work.
Yet the sets and the costumes are also characters here, as in any period piece. The castle is made shadowy with expert lighting. The costumes and the makeup are also beautifully done, though I can't comment on just how historically accurate they are. Yes, we can expect Academy Award nominations in many categories, including costumes, set design, art direction and cinematography.
The DVD Extras
While the DVD version of this includes the standard commentary track to accompany the film, it is the other extras that really add dimensions to the story. There are bios and back-stories of principal characters which were close in production value and content to something one might watch on The History Channel. Including the standard author, cast and crew sound-bites, there were also interviews of historians to put the story in context.
Warnings and Considerations
At the close of the picture, after the inevitable historical event which everyone familiar with the story will be expecting, there is a somewhat strange montage of all the characters which includes brief captions explaining their fates and the historical significance of the events they took part in. The notes are hard to read, somewhat prosaic and are definitely subjective. Yet they do seem to convey a message which I conclude was intentional: that the somewhat petty sexual and interpersonal exploits of this group of people had tremendous historical consequences for the UK, Europe and the world. This is very subjective, yet it partly justifies what is otherwise a very convenient and abrupt technique to end the movie and tie up all the story lines neatly.
This is definitely a version that is not for kids. The story deviates in sometimes shocking ways, with the sex turning violent in at least one scene.
Some of the actors do suffer from a loss of their accents in some scenes, yet the in-the-moment performances make that easy to ignore.
If you're a fan of period pieces and all things English royalty, this movie is already on your list. It's worth the price of admission.
33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Made Me Sigh for Those Wonderful BBC Mini-series,
32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars G'day, mate, I'm the king of England.,
Scarlett Johansen seemed to have the acting range of a cold, dead fish. Natalie Portman did better, but frankly, she was fighting a losing battle against very poor scripting. And Eric Bana...well, as an Aussie, I have of course taken the oath of allegience to always adore Eric Bana, who like Hugh Jackman is one of the nicest guys you could hope to meet. But Eric has a very strong accent, of the type that many people who hail from Melbourne's northern suburbs do, and he just can't seem to hide it, no matter what. When he tries to sound English, it just makes me cringe. I was almost expecting King Henry VIII to crack open a beer, throw another shrimp on the barbie and call Anne 'a beaut sheila'. Ugh! Sorry, Eric, you're a top bloke, but I can say with all honesty that Amy Winehouse would have made a better King of England, even with the problem of trying to get a crown on over the wig.
The film made me angry because it was so historically inaccurate. No film better deserved to have the 'This movie is a work of fiction and bears no resemblance to any persons or events ever etc.' disclaimer appear in its closing credits. Worse, I sensed a strong bias from the writer (the writer of the book this was based on, assumedly), in that she seemed to be living vicariously through the character of Mary, and wanted her to be all things good, whilst her sister Anne had to appear as all things bad, assumedly to make Mary appear even better by comparison.
And as for the scene with Anne and her brother (and anyone who's seen the movie will know exactly what scene I mean), well, that was just ICKY!
I like my historical dramas to have at least some resemblance to actual history. And I like them to seem realistic and believable, not just like soap operas or bad romance novels, with inane dialogue and two-dimensional, illogically-constructed characters. I mean, in this movie, King Henry VIII is a thin, fairly stupid, silent and moody bloke who can be manipulated by the most transparent of women's wiles, who makes decisions on the merest hint of a whim, without a real thought of his own in his pretty little head. If King Henry VIII had been as much of a moron in real life as he was scripted to be in this movie, I doubt he would have survived beyond the cradle, let alone to become one of the most powerful, notorious, world-changing kings in history.
Oh, and one final thing -- if you're going to spend nearly half a movie boring us viewers by showing women in bed either in labour or miscarrying, at least get the details right. Elizabeth was a redhead, yet for some reason, the baby playing her at her birth had BLACK hair!
52 of 60 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Even worse than the book, if that is possible,
The Tudor period is a fascinating time, and it doesn't need to be changed or altered in order to make it more interesting. There's plenty of love, sex, betrayal, political scheming, etc. so I'm not sure why PG felt the need to completely alter the story so much.
I won't go into all of the historical inaccuracies here, if I did, I would be here all night. Besides, there are many other amazon reviewers who are better-spoken than me and have far more knowledge of the Tudor period than I do (I'm only a student), and they have written some wonderful reviews pointing out errors (head on over to the TOBG book page, or check out forums on IMDB).
My main problem with this movie was that it seemed much more like a TV Movie (Lifetime channel anybody?) than a Hollywood film with well-known, highly-paid actors and actresses. The Henry/Mary relationship was almost non-existent, they have a few sex scenes, but nothing to show that they might have actually cared for one another. Henry and Mary have TWO very short conversations before they sleep together. And this is supposed to be our heroine, who has fallen in love? This is preposterous even to romance novel readers. There is no character development or relationship development between the beginning of Henry and Mary's affair and Mary conceiving. So when Anne comes back and "steals" Henry away from Mary while she is pregnant, do we really feel that bad for Mary? Not really, since we haven't seen anything to show us that Mary is in love (at least in the novel there was an actual emotional relationship, one-dimensional as it was).
The one main thing that *really* put me off of this film was the rape scene with Henry and Anne. Henry certainly was not a wonderful guy, history has clearly shown us this, but is this scene necessary? As far as history goes, Anne held off Henry for many years, so a rape is very unlikely (not to mention she wasn't pregnant when she and Henry married secretly (winter 1532, second ceremony in London January 1533, Elizabeth born Sept 1533)). I'm not really sure if this scene is here to show us that "you'll get what's coming to you" if you act like a shrew, or if it's supposed to make us feel a hint of sympathy for Anne. Yes Henry and Anne's relationship (obviously) fell apart, but it fell apart over a period of years, not months. *SPOILER ALERT* Also, the ending with Mary storming into the castle and grabbing Elizabeth from her caretakers and walking out with her seems pretty preposterous. Henry had gotten rid of Anne, but he still did show regard for his children and made sure they were properly raised. Snatching Elizabeth, especially after the king has warned you he will not tolerate you, your pleas to him, or your family anymore, seems like asking for some major punishment to me. *END SPOILER*
Strangely enough, considering that Ms. Gregory considers herself a "feminist author," the only characters remotely resembling anything feminist was the Boleyn mother, Elizabeth, who encourages her daughters to be well-educated and shows her objection to the Boleyn-Howard males pimping out their daughters for political gain (gains which usually fell to the males), and Katherine of Aragon, who acts honorably and respectably at all times. I don't think these are the characters we are meant to admire, but Anne is made out to be a self-serving, conniving shrew and Mary is too meek and mousy to be likeable.
One major (non-historical) error: Mary is married to William Carey, but midway through the film William Stafford asks her to marry him and leave court with him. Um, what happened to Mary's husband (He died of the sweating sickness, but the film never shows this)?
I was hoping for some great costumes from this film, and I was very disappointed. The fabrics were very modern (some of them looked like 1970s curtains) and seemed very out of place. Natalie Portman basically wore the same version of a dress, just in different colored fabrics, through the majority of the film (same for Scarlett). Tudor fashion is amazing; the costume designers could have shown so much more variety with the costumes. The accents of Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson were incredibly bad. Portman's accent seems to have gotten worse from when she did V for Vendetta. Also, at times certain scenes were so dark that I had to readjust the settings on my screen (which I've never had a problem with).
The one positive thing about the film is that they chose to leave out the incest plot-line that was very strongly suggested in the book.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 Stars for the film, 5 for the DVD,
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
When I ordered the DVD, I had already resigned myself to little or no features. Elizabeth, and Elizabeth: The Golden Age were sorely lacking. Most period movies have few extras, despite having such a treasure trove of history to mine. However, I was surprised and delighted with the excellent selection of special features on this DVD! First, there are several deleted scenes, many of which should have been included in the film. For the most part, they centered around Mary and gave more insight into her life with her husband after Anne supplants her, plus some calculating scenes with Anne. One scene with Mary's husband upon seeing her "bastard" child of Henry was quite poignant. All of these would have enriched the movie to be more than just two women in rivalry for a king. It could have been 5 stars and would no doubt have pleased more people who saw the film. Also included in the extras was a feature called "To Be Lady" about court etiquette and the precarious life of a woman, even noble, in those times. It featured interviews with the author, some college history professors, and the cast/crew of the film. Women were often exploited in that time to the benefit (or detriment) of their families. And Mary and Anne were no exception. Another excellent feature was about translating history to film. They discussed the book vís á vís the movie, what they used of history, how the expanded on Mary's lesser known character. I have not read the book this film is based on, and didn't feel any urge to do so after seeing the movie. However, these two features and the interview with the author and cast have piqued my interest in the novel. I definitely intend to read it now.
Many DVDs throw in biographies of the characters just to have another extra to list. They are usually nothing more than frozen screen shots a viewer clicks through. But, this DVD included bios of 5 principal characters which included interviews from the author, historians, the cast and crew, coupled with footage from the movie. They were like mini-bios from A&E. Very well done, and I would recommend first time viewers of the movie watch before the film as they really help to keep the characters straight (such as Mary's two husbands, William Carey and William Stafford who look enough alike with the same name that I sometimes confused them). The DVD also includes a commentary, which I didn't listen too because I find them very boring. Overall, a fantastic set of features on a single disc edition.
As to the film, I thought the costumes and sets were phenomenal, the story was very good and the casting spot on. The cinematography is expertly done, and helps set the tone and tell the story as much as the script. Some viewers have complained that Natalie Portman wasn't good as Anne Boleyn. I've read a lot of history books and historical fiction on Anne and I thought she played the part true to the person (if not the book, which I can't comment on). Anne Boleyn wasn't a raving beauty, she was striking. Her major appeal came from denying Henry and being intelligent, ambitious, manipulative - in short, a match for him in many ways. She intrigued him. Portman brought all these qualities to light in her portrayal. Scarlett Johansson actually exceeded my expectations. I have only seen her in a couple movies, and the parts didn't require much effort. However, I thought she embodied the somewhat naïve and soft Mary, who is quickly disillusioned about the real world, and even her family. The two women played against each other beautifully. In one of the features, the director mentions how in the book it is often not clear which of them is "the other" Boleyn girl and that he uses this in the film. He does, and it works to great effect.
Eric Bana as Henry is perhaps the weakest casting choice, but he wasn't bad by any stretch. History bears out that Henry was young, handsome, charming and athletic until injured falling from a horse so Bana fit that fine. Bana is best as the temperamental king who is at once attracted and disgusted by Anne's manipulation, and drawn to Mary's docile nature. His interactions with other characters didn't really stand out, but the movie was focused on the women so this was fine. Two other stand outs were Anna Torrent as Queen Katherine of Aragon and David Morrissey as the Duke of Norfolk. Though her role was small, Torrent's Katherine made a big impact. She commanded every scene she was in. She was at once regal, and pitiable, as the victim of her husband's desperation for a male heir. Morrissey played a consummate politician - calculating, controlling and just a bit sleazy. Without him, it would be difficult to sympathize with either Anne or her family. His ruthless game of chess, in which they are pawns was vital to the film. Yes, liberties are taken with historical fact, but some license must be given to film as its own art form just as for a historical fiction. Not much is known about Mary Boleyn, but this film certainly stirs the imagination of what she may have been like.
Overall, I highly recommend this DVD!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars How to make a fascinating topic dull,
This takes one of the most exciting and perilous chapters of the long and gory Tudor story and turns it ... dull. There just isn't any getting around it. They just make it dry. The perspective of Mary Boleyn would have been more interesting if they'd given Scarlet Johannson anything to do except go around looking like a sad puppy and acting like a doormat. The whole "twist" with George Boleyn, frankly, was not believable. The potential of Jane Parker Boleyn, so cornerstone to the books, was thrown into cameo status.
I watched this while doing some complicated work, and I was glad to have something interesting to do while I was letting this grind to its predictable and messy finish. One can say that any drama based on history is, by its very nature, predictable, but you're almost waiting for them to get on with the executions so you can roll the credits and move on.
All in all, if you like costume dramas, there's worse ways to spend a couple hours.
67 of 86 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I am Henry the eighth I am, Henry the eighth I am, I am"*,
Short Attention Span Summary (SASS):
1. Henry VIII (Eric Bana) was a handsome, hunky, hunka hunka burnin' love
2. Anne Boleyn (Natalie Portman) and her sister Mary (Scarlett Johansson) were babelicious babes
3. Married Henry didn't have an heir, so he wanted to pick up a spare
4. Sir Thomas Boleyn had tons of ambition and a couple of daughters to spare
5. Henry picks up the wrong one, who might have turned out to be the right one, if not for ....
6. ... the other Boleyn girl
7. Abstinence can make the heart grow fonder but befuddles the brain
8. The lady may have been in waiting, but the King wasn't
9. By George! I think she's done it
10. Off with her head!
Warning to students: Quoting the above in History class may be detrimental to your grades.
More hysterical drama than historical drama, this movie seems more "Desperate Housewives" than period piece, but there's no denying that the costumes and sets are stunning, and the lead actors and actresses simply amazing, despite the lack of the proper accents.
I'm going to vote for the entertainment factor here.
Amanda Richards, April 28, 2008
(*from the song by Herman's Hermits)
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Historically inaccurate and all-around terrible,
Trying to cram several decades of events into two hours is challenging, but throwing away important points is the result of terrible script writing. Eric Bana is awful as Henry VIII; he captures none of the drama and power and majesty of the real man. Natalie Portman is decent as Anne Boleyn, but there is still something lacking in her performance. Scarlett Johansson was pretty much only there to be just that, pretty. The rest of the actors and actresses were relatively miss-cast as well. They seemed to be phoning in their performances.
But the worst part was the historical inaccuracies portrayed by this film. Some of the most stand-out ones being:
Mary allegedly hopping directly into bed with Henry VIII and skipping the fact that she was originally sent to the French court (where she was allegedly the mistress of the King of France for a time.) Anne had also been at the French court; she was never "banished" there. She was actually there when Mary started her affair with Henry VIII!
The "Henry VIII fell down a ravine and got hurt!" bit? Totally made up.
Mary had two children during her time at the English court. Catherine and Henry were never officially announced as Henry VIII's bastards; it was only implied later on.
Anne and Mary were never close. It is believed that Mary was actually the elder sister and Anne the youngest. It wasn't until after the affair with Mary that Henry VIII took any interest in Anne. And Henry VIII never banished Mary at Anne's wishes.
That bit where Catherine of Aragon confronted Anne and Mary? NEVER HAPPENED!
Mary married William Stafford in secret, shortly after Anne became Queen and gave birth to her daughter Elizabeth, but as soon as the secret was found out, Mary was disowned by her family and the couple was banished from court. Mary was virtually penniless and begged Thomas Cromwell to speak on her behalf to Anne and Henry VIII. None in her family would help her; Anne eventually took some pity on Mary and sent her some money but refused to receive her at court.
Mary NEVER begged Henry VIII to spare Anne's life. She never attended Anne or George's executions and never returned to court. Nor did Mary raise her niece Elizabeth. She most likely never even saw Elizabeth, as the future queen was raised at Hatfield House.
Honestly, this movie was terrible. It was almost as if the script writer wrote plot points on slips of paper and drew them out of a hat, then cobbled the script together with droll dialogue. They couldn't even get the scenery right. Why must Hollywood screw up something that's actually documented? History is far more entertaining than fiction!
If you want to watch something quality with decent attempts to be historically accurate (although with its own faults) I suggest you pick up Seasons 1 and 2 of HBO's "The Tudors". Beautifully cast, great acting, fantastic script writing, only minor inaccuracies in places. Skip "The Other Boleyn Girl" entirely!
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The Other Boleyn Girl by Justin Chadwick