The Other Boleyn Girl
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Imagine two sisters whose father and entire family encourage them to debase themselves to curry favor with the handsome young King Henry (Jared Harris, Ocean's Twelve, To the Ends of the Earth). Mary Boleyn, played with winsome gravity by Natascha McElhone (Californication), is the first sister to catch the eye of the king, grown weary of his wife, Queen Katherine (Yolanda Vazquez, Notting Hill). "Use your wiles!" insists Mary's father, Sir Thomas Boleyn (noted British theater actor Jack Shepherd), as the appalled, newly married young woman tries to resist. Mary ultimately carries on an affair with the king and bears him an illegitimate son--but sister Anne sees her own opening as the king becomes restless again.
The film takes a decidedly modern approach to this period drama, by having the sisters occasionally speak directly to the camera, confessing their deepest desires (since clearly their own family couldn't care less). The men around them are desperate to advance their standing in the court and don't hesitate to push the young sisters into moral harm's way to get what they want. Things take a dangerous turn when Anne, played by the revelatory Jodhi May (Defiance), musters up ambition of her own to be not only a royal plaything but queen herself. The lack of a male heir, however, and Anne's own pride begin to spell her downfall, as her family distances themselves ("don't let that girl sink us all alongside her!" her horrified, and somewhat horrifying, father declares). It's the film's great achievement that though we know (most of) the end of the tale, we remain riveted to the very end. --A.T. Hurley
Top Customer Reviews
And it's a pleasant, intimate little look at the difficult world of women in Tudor England. It's hampered by what is obviously a very low budget, but Jodhi May and Jared Harris turn in performances that knock it a few notches higher. Seriously, they're both amazing.
While serving Queen Katherine, Mary Boleyn (Natascha McElhone) catches the eye of King Henry VIII (Jared Harris), and soon her scheming, power-hungry family has shoved her into his bed. Initially she's horrified and ashamed, but soon finds that she's starting to fall in love with the charming king.
Meanwhile, Mary catches her sister Anne (Jodhi May) in bed with an engaged courtier, and the disgraced girl is sent away. When Anne returns, Mary is pregnant, and the Boleyn family is afraid of losing Henry's favor. But when he meets Anne, Henry immediately drops Mary, and becomes enraptured by the ambitious, frank young girl.
But Anne's one mistake -- and exile -- have hardened her, and she's determined not to be the "king's whore" like her sister, but his wife. Amid a storm of angry protest, Henry divorces his wife and marries Anne. But when she gives birth to another daughter, her position begins to slip...
"The Other Boleyn Girl" is not an epic movie -- it's more of a Tudor chick-flick. The big issues (women's reduced rights, splitting from the Catholic Church, poor Katherine of Aragon) are pushed to the background, in favor of a more intimate look at two young women's lives.Read more ›
I don't know why, but I found myself watching it again (long after the first occasion) and I liked it much better.
Yes, the costumes and sets are terrible. There was clearly a pitiful production budget for this. Where the movie redeems itself is in the performances. Jodhi May is excellent. Her transition from lovestruck girl to scheming woman is very well done. The other performances are all solid (although Jared Harris comes off a little mild as King Henry). I also liked the music. It's not epic, but very moody, melancholy, and elegant.
Some of the dialogue is ad libbed and the director uses a confessional camera technique (a la reality tv) to allow the characters to say what's on their minds directly to the audience. It's jarring, unexpected, probably my least favorite choice for narrative. But at the same time, it held my attention.
Overall, it's an odd little movie. But anyone who is curious should give it a try. (I think that after seeing the new version opening this week, I may find myself wishing they'd combined the production values of 2008 with the cast from 2003.)
Although Natascha McElhone plays the part of Françoise Gilot, Picasso's live-in lover in the 1996 film ...Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I will look forward to watching this. History does not tell you much about Anne Boleyn's sister, but I think she got the better deal. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Amazon Customer
Natasha McElhone was excellent in her portrayal of Mary Boleyn. The portrayals of Anne and Henry were so-so.Published 3 months ago by DIANE M DONOVAN
This movie is terrible. I thought it would be good because Andrew Davies was a script consultant. I enjoyed the book so I thought the movie would be good too, especially because... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Colleen Baten
the catholic church states that this is what happened. good movie, plot.etc.,Published 12 months ago by Dolly Jeanne Drown