Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)

The Bold And The Beautiful

- We have seen many films about the Tudor period and this sub-genre has produced a great deal of fine films. Most of the time, films about the Tudors will be very epic in scope with a grand historical setting, yet very much centered on character development. However, The Other Boleyn Girl (2008) is none of these things.

While not exactly a completely bad film, The Other Boleyn Girl can be counted among the weakest of the Tudor-concerning films. Very loosely based on the novel by Philippa Gregory, The Other Boleyn Girl is about the Boleyn sisters and their battle for the affection of King Henry VIII. A story packed with sexual escapades, scandal, jealousy, betrayal, vindictiveness, and hair-pulling, there is not much to like about The Other Boleyn Girl.

While the sets and costume department deserve a hardy pat on the shoulder for a job well done, other aspects hang the film out to dry. The overall story is interesting in a historical context because of the effect it had on a nation but it is not told well in this film. This film is neither epic nor historical - for example, the film mentions and then neglects the Anglican split from the Roman Catholic Church like a Trivial Pursuit question. Instead, The Other Boleyn Girl is told in a very soap-opera way, comprised of uninspired dialogue and centering on paper thin characters and their Prom Queen-like dramas.

The performances found throughout the film do not exactly make up for the rest of the film's shortcomings. Natalie Portman is adequate but not engaging in her role as Anne Boleyn, the older and overly ambitious Boleyn sister Anne. Eric Bana is very authoritative in his portrayal of King Henry, but he lacks a personality (though he is not helped by a good script either). While two out of the three leading actors are not all that great, there are a few performances that are worthwhile. Scarlett Johansson plays Mary Boleyn and is the strongest of the leading actors, though that fact is helped by the fact that her character is one of the few found in the film with any kind of dimension. Ana Torrent is also very good in a small role as Henry's original wife Katherine and Kristin Scott Thomas gives the best performance of the film, being very subtle yet very strong in her portrayal of Lady Elizabeth Boleyn.

The look and feel to The Other Boleyn Girl is also a letdown; neither the music nor the cinematography does its part to create an emotional movie. Paul Cantelon's score for the film is ordinary, lifeless and, in the end, useless - ultimately unmemorable and adding nothing to the atmosphere of the film. The cinematography is not poorly handled by the largely television-groomed director of photography Kieran McGuigan but the film does not look particularly good either.

When you put everything together, nothing about The Other Boleyn Girl is particularly bad, just royally lackluster - less like a historical epic and more like a period daytime soap with a big budget.

CBC Rating: 5/10

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