Under the cut you can find some advance test screening reviews of The Other Boleyn Girl, which was recently held in New York City. They’re very much mixed. Click here and here for full reviews as I’ve mainly included the bits related to Scarlett’s performance. Please do not read if you don’t want to be spoiled at all!
Thanks to thevoid99 for the heads-up!
Johansson, who I usually like, is cursed with playing a character that seems indifferent to everything. She may not be happy when she is told that she has to leave her husband to become mistress to the king, but she’s a trooper and goes along with it. She goes along with everything in this film, making her one of the most accommodating and bland characters I’ve seen in a while. Portman has the more interesting of the roles as the conniving, power hungry, dominant sister. Portman probably gives the strongest performance in the film, though she rarely makes you understand why Anne does the things she does, other than the fact that because this is history and this is how it happened… maybe. Neither girl is great with the British accent, though Portman holds on to hers more often than Johansson.
If I haven’t mentioned Ms. Johansson up until this point, its because she is the cast’s weakest link. This is a role she should’ve been able to do more with: yes, the character of Mary is suppose to pale in comparison to her sister, but Ms. Johansson doesn’t just pale–she disappears. The quiet fire she exhibited in Lost In Translation would have served her here–without any life behind her character’s tiredness, Mary appears to drift from scene to scene and the strength the character needs to find in the script’s crucial moments feels forced, like we are expected to believe something that isn’t there. It’s a disappointing turn that fans of the book will love (other audience members seemed to feel she got it just right), that casual filmgoers will not understand.
All these flaws aside, I really did enjoy myself. There’s a lot to admire here: the gorgeous costumes, the strong performances, some moments of undeniable power and emotional punch, particularly in the film’s third act, which goes from dark to pitch black with the flip of a switch and got my pulse pounding. I did care for these characters. I wished them better lives than their actions delivered them.