Mary Queen of Scots Movie Review: A solid showcase by Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie


MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS movie review is here. Nominated for best costume design and best makeup and hairstyling at the 91st Academy Awards, the movie stars Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie. Let’s find out what director Josie Rourke has in store in the story of Mary – the Catholic Queen of Scotland cousin of   Protestant Queen of England Elizabeth 1in MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS movie review.

What is MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS all about?
A historical drama film set in the 16th century based on John Guy’s biography Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart.

What is the plot/storyline of MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS?
Mary Stuart (Saoirse Ronan) has lost her husband and returns to her native Scotland from France. The Catholic Queen Mary desires to sit on the throne of England owned by her cousin the Protestant Queen Elizabeth I (Margot Robbie). The unmarried and childless Queen Elizabeth 1 takes this as a threat and what follows is a dangerous game of up man ship between the two super strong women and their cunning advisers who battle it out either by wit, arms or toxic masculinity.


Beau Willimon known for HOUSE OF CARDS and IDEAS OF MARCH writes the John Guy’s biography for screen and liberties are taken at will. The strong premise could have been better developed in the area of drama of thrills which is sometimes solid and sometimes drawn-out. Like Bollywood’s Sanjay Leela Bhansali in DEVDAS where Paro and Chandramukhi meet and even indulge in a colourful dance which later became a highlight. Beau Willimon makes Mary and Elizabeth meet and have a conversational show down. It’s a terrific sequence but not the truth. It never happened. This gives a feeling that whether all these establishments was just to bring Mary and Elizabeth together?!. The story of Mary Scots has the potential of entering into so many layers, interpret/comment on so many aspects like religion, power, women empowerment, trust, commitment, love for motherland, male chauvinisms, love, betrayal etc. Queen Mary was women who lured for power and longed for true love but remain empty handed on both fronts. Queen of England was not kind to her, movies also somewhere failed to provide her true justice and Beau Willimon’s screenplay also fails to recognize her true will. The audience is left with an irony that whether it was Queen Mary’s ambition that took away everything from her or it was the treacherous and wicked plans of men who surrounded her bringing her to such an end.

Undoubtedly it’s the solid showcase of sheer acting powers by Saoirse Ronan as Queen Mary followed by Margot Robbie as Queen Elizabeth 1. Saoirse Ronan is outstanding and supremely powerful having a presence that demands attention throughout. Margot Robbie adds the mysterious suspense in her get up and make up as the Queen of England who hides her cards and is better in protecting her crown. Margot Robbie is simply superb.

Josie Rourke’s direction in MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS
Josie Rourke’s theatre background is evident and she shoots MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS like a soap opera. Josie Rourke’s specialty in treating this saga as a spectacle, a mesmerizing experience to the eye deserves all the distinctions. Though an uncanny influence of Shekhar Kapur’s ELIZABETH and Sanjay Leela Bhansali (twisting history, making Mary and Elizabeth meet like Paro and Chandramukhi in DEVDAS), is clearly visible.


It’s a technical splendor without any iota of doubt. John Mathieson’s cinematography is like a 16th century painting. Alexandra Byrne’s costumes are wonderful truly deserving the Academy nominations, the use of colours – blue/gry for Mary and bright English for Elizabeth is a proof of work done with detailing. Jenny Shircore, Marc Pilcher, and Jessica Brooks hairstyling of Mary and Elizabeth is a fabulous straight from the 16th century portrait of the Queens. James Merifield production design is fantastic and true to the era.

Final Verdict
MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS could have been a rewarding cinematic experience if the writer director had maintained proper balance between splendor, thrills and drama and avoided clichés and over enthusiasm in twisting history for providing cinematic thrills. Still the making, the grandeur, detailing and solid showcase by Saoirse Ronan well supported by Margot Robbie makes it as a decent one time watch.

Critic Rating


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