Movie Review: ‘Mary Queen of Scots’ Seems Made For A Post-Hillary World

By Katie Walsh
Tribune News Service

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) As Katie Walsh reports, the new film ‘Mary Queen of Scots’ “isn’t about a catfight. It’s a reckoning with the fact that women have always had to fight men tooth and nail for their power”

Tribune News Service

Often, a period piece tells us more about the era in which the film was made than the historical period in question.

That is the case with Josie Rourke’s “Mary Queen of Scots,” written by Beau Willimon, which digs into the age-old question of gender and politics through the relationship of Scottish queen Mary Stuart (Saoirse Ronan) with her cousin and political foe Queen Elizabeth I (Margot Robbie).

But this isn’t about a catfight. It’s a reckoning with the fact that women have always had to fight men tooth and nail for their power, even if granted through birth, because men fear “a woman with a crown.”

The film opens in 1587, with Mary in prison, and it’s almost like you can almost hear the faint chants of “lock her up,” metaphorically.

The Queen of Scots and her wild, tumultuous life has been portrayed on film many times. This version’s closest comparison is the 1971 film “Mary, Queen of Scots” starring Vanessa Redgrave and Glenda Jackson as the two queens, which focuses on the same time period of Mary’s life: from her arrival in Scotland as the young widow of the King of France, throughout her turbulent, short-lived reign, before she was forced to abdicate the throne.

With “House of Cards” writer Willimon adapting the script, the political machinations are equally cunning and blackly evil.

In her feature debut, Rourke has crafted a sumptuous period piece through the lens of 2018 identity politics, an intersectional and feminist retelling of the history. People of color and queer people have been reinstated into the historically white, heteronormative genre, and rightfully so. It only serves to enhance the character and story, and it feels radical and fresh.

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