Posted by Riikka on February 16, 2008

Variety gives The Other Boleyn Girl a rave review, especially complimenting Scarlett’s work!!! I am really excited as the early reviews were mixed and not so complimentary of Scarlett. It has been a while since I’ve read such a positive review of a new performance of hers. Check it out!

Playing less fast and loose with history than Philippa Gregory’s novel, “The Other Boleyn Girl” is a sexy, good-looking political bodice-ripper with an almost flawless cast at the top of its game. With a straight-arrow script by Peter Morgan (“The Queen”) and smooth direction by Brit TV helmer Justin Chadwick (“Bleak House”), pic has the feel of an Old Hollywood studio costumer freshened up with contempo technique and acting styles. Tip-top cast, led by Eric Bana and Scarlett Johansson as Henry VIII and Mary Boleyn, could make this score beyond upscale auds with aggressive promotion and good reviews.

Gregory’s 2002 bestseller was previously made into a British telepic of the same title in 2003. Present item has none of the raggedy, low-budget feel of that partly improvised work, and scripter Morgan (who wrote the 2003 miniseries “Henry VIII”) seems utterly at ease with the characters here.

Morgan manages the difficult trick of making the narrative crystal-clear without dumbing down the actual material. By eliminating many of the more fanciful potboiler elements in Gregory’s novel, the script simplifies the tangled web of 16th-century Tudor court intrigues into a clean, fast-moving yarn that’s both highly cinematic and immediately engaging at a character level.

After sketching the idyllic country childhood of sisters Mary and Anne Boleyn, pic jumps straight to the marriage of the shy, elder Mary (Johansson) to the son of a merchant family (Benedict Cumberbatch). For the much more knowing, ambitious Anne (Natalie Portman), her father, Sir Thomas Boleyn (Mark Rylance), has bigger plans to advance the family’s standing, despite the reservations of his wife, Elizabeth (Kristin Scott Thomas).

Urged on by his brother-in-law, the Duke of Norfolk (David Morrissey), and noting how Henry VIII’s current wife, Catherine of Aragon (Ana Torrent), has failed to produce a male heir, Sir Thomas invites the king for a hunting visit and orders Anne to “bewitch” the monarch and become his mistress. Alas, the plan backfires and Henry falls for Mary instead. Sir Thomas & Co. quickly switch to Plan B, in which Mary takes Anne’s place, with the endorsement of her milquetoast husband.

Invited to the king’s court as a lady-in-waiting, Mary is frostily received by the dignified Catherine and accompanied by a pissed-off Anne. In a beautifully calibrated bedroom scene between Mary and Henry that’s marbled with genuine tenderness and sexual frissons, the two become lovers, to the delight of Sir Thomas and Norfolk. In a tantrum, Anne elopes with a nobody (Oliver Coleman), but is quickly packed off to France by her father to teach her a lesson.

Swept along by a rich score by Paul Cantelon (“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”), and costumed by Derek Jarman/Neil Jordan alum Sandy Powell in fabric heavy on blues, reds and golds, pic sets a rich stage for the second half, signaled by Anne’s return from temporary exile in Gaul. Confidently garbed in a dazzling green gown that immediately contrasts with the pic’s color scheme, Anne teases, taunts and flirts outrageously with Henry, driving a wedge between him and her sister and prepping the narrative for a fast-moving final act of plot reversals and rolling heads.

With the flashier role and some of the sharpest lines, Portman’s Anne dominates more of the early going than seems dramatically right for a movie whose title refers to the lesser-known sister. But at the end of the day, Johansson’s quieter Mary comes through as the pic’s emotional center, her tender love story with the conflicted monarch evoking the only genuine feelings on display.Johansson’s slow-burning perf is a model of restraint, her Mary trying to make emotional sense of an environment in which marriage is simply a political and social commodity. She’s nicely contrasted by the sheer physical presence of Bana’s moody, virile Henry, who’ll finally do anything — even cut off England from the Catholic Church — to produce a male heir.

Though she has the lynx-like eyes and ambition down pat, Portman doesn’t quite bring the necessary heft to make Anne a truly dominant power player, partly because she seems the least comfortable of the three non-Brit leads acting with acquired English accents.

Rest of the cast is aces, with Scott Thomas investing every syllable of her dialogue with extra resonance, Morrissey a powerful dramatic presence as the villainous Norfolk and Rylance cleverly playing Sir Thomas’ scheming in an unexpectedly low key. Spanish thesp Torrent brings an impressive dignity to her few scenes to the tragically sidelined Catherine of Aragon.

Historical locations in Blighty blend seamlessly with production designer John-Paul Kelly’s studio sets to create a convincing Tudor England.

Camera (Deluxe color prints, HD-to-35mm), Kieran McGuigan; editors, Carol Littleton, Paul Knight; music, Paul Cantelon; production designer, John-Paul Kelly; supervising art director, David Allday; costume designer, Sandy Powell; sound (Dolby Digital/SDDS/DTS Digital), John Midgley; sound designer, Julian Slater; special effects supervisor, Stuart Brisdon; associate producer, Faye Ward; assistant director, Deborah Saban; casting, Karen Lindsay-Stewart. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (noncompeting), Feb. 15, 2008. Running time: 115 MIN.

7 Responses to “The Other Boleyn Girl Variety Review”

that’s nice!
hollywood reporter didn’t like the film that much but they also praised scarlett!

February 16, 2008 at 02:08

god, I CANNOT wait to see it!!!

February 16, 2008 at 08:54

It is good to hear Scarlett getting praise for her acting skills which I think she deserves because I think she is a very good actress.

February 16, 2008 at 13:53

I had also thought that Scarlett looked like the star of that film after I had seen the trailer of that film.

February 16, 2008 at 14:04

Wow! I really can’t wait to see the film! While I loved the book I did feel it was going on and on and on – which was fine by me because it was an ingriguing. But that kind of style would have never worked for the film. So I’m happy to hear they’ve made clever choices – to not juts adapt the book faithfully but really to turn it into a cinematic experience. Also reading such praise for Scarlett’s performance – and from Variety no less – just made my day :blush:

Interesting to see David Morrissey in this – I’ve only just ‘discovered’ him in ‘Sense and Sensibility’.

February 16, 2008 at 15:28

When I saw a film trailer for the film, The Other Boleyn Girl, I had thought that Scarlett’s acting showed the greatest depth in that film.
When I saw some film clips on here of the film, The Other Boleyn Girl, I thought the story of that film didn’t seem like a realistic one, and that had maybe weakened that film, but I haven’t seen the film.
I thought from the film clips I saw on here of that film, that the acting abilities of the actors in that film seemed very varried from each actor to each actor, from some of the acting in that film seeming very good from some actors and very flat from other actors, and that because of that, that the acting in that film didn’t seem consistant in scenes in that film, and that, the acting in that film didn’t seem consistant as a whole because of some of the actors acting in that film being very good, and some actors acting in that film seeming like poor acting.
I thought from seeing some film clips on here of from that film, that the setting on that film didn’t seem right for that film in that in scenes in that film it looked a bit more like people filming in an old building than people filming a film set in the 16 th Century.

February 17, 2008 at 06:03

I think if that film does well, that Scarlett Johansson is likely to win awards for her acting in that film, because her acting in that film had a lot of depth and was very good acting.

February 17, 2008 at 06:21


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