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Mary Queen of Scots

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Josie Rourke, the director of the internationally renowned West End Theater „Donmar Warehouse“ in London, and Beau Willimon, the showrunner of the US version of “House of Cards,“ have made a feminist reinterpretation of the story of Mary Stuart. Mary (Saoirse Ronan) and Elizabeth (Margot Robbie) are two ambitious sisters in spirit surrounded by power-hungry, dumb, and fanatical men that lead them to their downfall. Maybe it‘s the spirit of the theater that can be a bit alienating or maybe it‘s the spirit of diversity, but there are numerous people of color in the supporting cast, mostly playing nameless messengers, chambermaids, and housekeepers. It‘s surely well-meaning, but it does make the palaces of Hollyrood and Whitehall seem like a Southern plantation with happy house slaves. Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie do what they can to be precise and present, but even they can‘t distract from the film‘s sensationalism which makes Mary‘s execution at the beginning of the film seem like a fashion show. Four maids rip Mary‘s black penitential robe on command and reveal a bright red robe in front of the executioner. The screenplay by Willimon, who is very experienced in intrigues, speeds along and focuses on the main scandal: who killed Mary Stuart‘s “private secretary,“ the bisexual Italian musican David Rizzio, and her husband and cousin Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley? The scandal led to Mary‘s abdication from the Scottish throne and to her escape to England. MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS attempts to be a thrilling revaluation of a historical figure, but the TV-theater collaboration isn‘t quite a success.

Tom Dorow (INDIEKINO BERLIN)

Translation: Elinor Lewy

Credits

Original title: Mary, Queen of Scots
Großbritannien 2018, 124 min
Genre: Biography, Drama, Historical Film
Director: Josie Rourke
Author: Beau Willimon
DOP: John Mathieson
Montage: Chris Dickens
Music: Max Richter
Distributor: Universal Pictures International
Cast: Margot Robbie, Saoirse Ronan, David Tennant, Jack Lowden, Gemma Chan
FSK: 12
Release: 17.01.2019

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