The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)

Director: Justin Chadwick
Plot: Two sisters contend for the affection of King Henry VIII.

Genre: Drama/History/Romance
Awards: -
Runtime: 115min
Rating: NC16 for mature thematic elements, sexual content and some violent images.


The Other Boleyn Girl is the kind of film that is unlikely to interest many apart from history fanatics or fans of costume drama. Part of an unofficial trilogy together with Elizabeth, and Elizab
eth: The Golden Age, The Other Boleyn Girl documents the scandalous era of the British royal family through the eyes of its lustful beings. Though there are some doubts over The Other Boleyn Girl's historical accuracy, the story is still told in a manner that is at the very least engaging.

The first half of the film is a joy to watch. It features magnificent set decoration and elaborate costumes that are the hallmarks of Britain’s culture centuries ago. Moreover, the excellent cinematography steals some of the limelight away from the cast. It's no Barry Lyndon though, the standard-bearer of the genre in which such pictures are compared to. Because the scope of The Other Boleyn Girl is not quite vast, the film may seem like a lightweight which might give viewers the impression that the film is thin on story.

Eric Bana (Troy, Munich), Natalie Portman (My Blueberry Nights, V For Vendetta), and Scarlett Johansson (Lost In Translation, The Island) play the film's three central characters – Henry Tudor, Anne, and Mary Boleyn respectively. The finest display of the trio comes from Portman, who has matured greatly since the days of Padme Amidala. However, that cannot be said of Bana and Johansson. Bana does not have enough screen presence to portray King Henry while Johansson's performance is too shallow to capture the essence of an innocent sister caught up in a triangle of romance and deceit. Furthermore, the three stars are not of British descent, thus the British accent they use sounds contrived and unnatural. Even for Portman, she sometimes finds herself uncomfortable with her role.

The second half of the film speeds up remarkably, but unfortunately to the film's detriment. This results in a rushed climax that fails to deliver when it could have done so with measured pacing. There’s no fairy tale ending in The Other Boleyn Girl, but there's a lesson or two to pick up. No matter how distinguished one is, it just takes a slight mistake or misjudgment to compound one’s life to misery. Furthermore, societies which refuse to break conventions and traditions will one day fall prey to their own inflexibilities. The Other Boleyn Girl is an average picture that sparkles only sporadically. Not the kind that will cause one to clap in awe when the credits roll.



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