Mary Queen of Scots (2018)

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Critic Consensus: Mary Queen of Scots delivers smartly crafted period political thrills while offering a brilliant showcase for the talents of its well-matched leads.

AUDIENCE SCORE


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"Mary Queen of Scots" explores the turbulent life of the charismatic Mary Stuart (Ronan). Queen of France at 16 and widowed at 18, Mary defies pressure to remarry. Instead, she returns to her native Scotland to reclaim her rightful throne. But Scotland and England fall under the rule of the compelling Elizabeth I (Robbie). Each young Queen beholds her "sister" in fear and fascination. Rivals in power and in love, and female regents in a masculine world, the two must decide how to play the game of marriage versus independence. Determined to rule as much more than a figurehead, Mary asserts her claim to the English throne, threatening Elizabeth's sovereignty. Betrayal, rebellion, and conspiracies within each court imperil both thrones - and change the course of history.

Cast

Saoirse Ronan
as Mary Stuart
Margot Robbie
as Queen Elizabeth I
Jack Lowden
as Lord Darnley
Joe Alwyn
as Robert Dudley
David Tennant
as John Knox
Guy Pearce
as Sir William Cecil
Gemma Chan
as Bess of Hardwick
Martin Compston
as Earl of Bothwell
Brendan Coyle
as Earl of Lennox
Ian Hart
as Lord Maitland
Adrian Lester
as Lord Randolph
James McArdle
as Earl of Moray
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Critic Reviews for Mary Queen of Scots

All Critics (129) | Top Critics (39)

[A] lack of consistency makes far too many pivotal plot points seem arbitrary, as if the filmmakers realized, "we have to get things moving!"

Dec 14, 2018 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

If it's not quite a success, at least it's an ambitious failure.

Dec 14, 2018 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…

A dramatic but unreliable account of Mary's tenuous rule over Scotland and deadly rivalry with Elizabeth I of England.

Dec 14, 2018 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

"Mary Queen of Scots" feels like sitting through a history lesson, and not a particularly enlightening one.

Dec 13, 2018 | Rating: C+ | Full Review…

Ronan deserves better. And so do we.

Dec 13, 2018 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

Although the film is competently made, there's nothing here worth more than a cursory art-house release in advance of home video purgatory.

Dec 13, 2018 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Mary Queen of Scots

½

Serving as a feminist reclamation project, Mary Queen of Scots attempts to re-contextualize "Bloody Mary" in the royal dispute for the English throne. As played by Saoirse Ronan, Mary is portrayed as an empathetic, open-minded but strong-willed ruler looking to make peace between the two nations, and Elizabeth is portrayed as a flinty, scared, aloof woman that literally tells her younger cousin that she is her better in every manner. It's a flip of how the two women are often portrayed throughout history, which raises the question of whether history has been twisted from centuries of revisionist and political obfuscation. There are definitely elements in this movie that I know are historically questionable, like Mary accepting a gay man into her royal court of ladies with open arms and a dismissive view of his sexual leanings. I find it hard to fathom that a devout Catholic woman who ordered heathens burned at the stake would be so anachronistically tolerant of homosexuality. If there's a new theme for this costume drama it's that women, even those in power, even those who were deemed wicked or corrupt by historians (universally men for centuries), were hemmed in by scheming men who were trying to usurp their power, undermine them, and manipulate them. Mary is thrown into one faulty suitor after another, positioning her as the victim of a patriarchal society. Again, I suspect there is validity to this context but it treats Mary with kid gloves, denying her righteous impulses. Ronan (Lady Bird) delivers a fine performance of grit and grace, but it's Margot Robbie (I, Tonya) as Elizabeth that really misses the mark. She is sadly miscast and seems to shrink in the role. The depiction of Queen Elizabeth is also a disservice for drama and the concluding makeup reminded me of the Queen of Hearts from Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderand. Mary Queen of Scots is an acceptable costume drama told with a little more heat (it's R-rated for some reason) and a little more consideration to its subjects, but Mary Queen of Scots made me question the voracity of its portraits and made me really wish I was watching the Cate Blanchett Elizabeth movie instead. Nate's Grade: B-

Nate Zoebl
Nate Zoebl

Super Reviewer

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