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The Other Boleyn Girl

The Other Boleyn Girl

Genders: Romance, Drama, Biography, History

Director: Justin Chadwick

Writer: Peter Morgan, Philippa Gregory

Actors: Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Eric Bana, Jim Sturgess

Year: 2008
Run time: 1h 55min
IMDB score: 6.6
Updated: 2 years ago

Movie infomation

Movie name: The Other Boleyn Girl

Genders: Romance, Drama, Biography, History

Imdb Score: 6.6

Runtime: 1h 55min

Released: 29 Feb 2008

Director: Justin Chadwick

Writer: Peter Morgan, Philippa Gregory

Actors: Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Eric Bana, Jim Sturgess

Box Office: $26.8M

Company: Sony Pictures/Columbia


Imdb Link

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Eh... Nice costumes and sets

6/10 If you want a good movie about Henry VIII and Anne Bolyen, rent Anne of the Thousand Days. That was a film that used history to tell a story about real people who had a love to change a nation.

In this version of the eponymous Phillipa Gregory novel, historical inaccuracies abound. Approximately fifteen years are compressed into two hours with no indication time has gone by except for various babies. None of the characters ever change or grow any older. The characters in this movie are completely one-sided. Anne is ambitious. Henry is a womanizer. Mary is simple. No one has any complexities. The sisterly rivalry plays out like an underdeveloped soap opera.

On the other hand, the film is engaging and the costumes lovely. Same with the gorgeous palace settings.

Eye candy it is. Truthful or realistic it isn't.

5 years ago

Sometimes the Truth is Stranger Than Fiction

7/10 A quick glimpse at the Tudor family line on Wikipedia will yield hundreds of years of made-for-movie material, but none quite as compelling as the story of Anne Boleyn. Pair a classic story with airy language, beautiful sets and costumes, and some A-list names and you have Oscar magic in the making. Right? Well, not always. We've seen it before and we're not necessarily impressed with royalty anymore. The Other Boleyn Girl offers new perspectives and dramatic angles on the saga of wives that is Henry VIII's legacy, but nearly drowns in melodrama.

And it's not entirely the movie's fault. Boleyn Girl follows the story of both Anne (Natalie Portman) and Mary (Scarlett Johansson) Boleyn and their relationship with the English court. King Henry VIII (Eric Bana) has trouble producing a male heir, so the Boleyn family offers their daughter Anne to bed. When Henry has a hunting accident due to Anne's carelessness, he is nursed and subsequently charmed by innocent Mary. But Mary is already married, so the King promotes her husband and sends the couple to court where he can meet with Mary whenever he pleases. Mary falls in love with Henry and becomes his mistress. Anne, the elder sister, is scorned by what she believes is her sister's ultimate betrayal, and plots revenge. The two continue on in these roles for some time, swapping places in bed with Henry and spurting out babies while their relatives egg them on. This isn't quite how things went down in reality, but the changes are minor and seem necessary to condense the timeline and create at least one sympathetic character.

The Other Boleyn Girl fares best when it's exploring the relationship between Anne and Mary. This isn't the first story of sister rivalry, but the dynamic between Anne and Mary is extraordinarily well-played. Their previous roles and their public images make Portman and Johansson perfect fits. We believe Portman to be intelligent and coy, and Johansson to be naive and desired. More - we believe these roles might be easily reversed. As sisters, their relationship is deeply disturbing: they love each other, they hate each other, they're unable to escape the expectations placed upon them by their family. As an older sister (with an admittedly not-as-screwed-up relationship), I found this portrayal very realistic - rich with emotion and complex meaning.

I wish I could say the rest of the movie was as artful. There's constant allusion and foreshadowing to the Boleyn demise through use of visual and editing metaphors. If some details were twisted, other details might have been cut out - too many tear-filled scenes means that this eventually feels like a soap opera. At one point in the movie, Anne is sent off to France and comes back wearing a very distracting "B" charm, which she sports until the end of the movie. When I finally finished inventing what else "B" might stand for (besides Boleyn, there are plenty of other fits), I wondered about Anne's character. She's now praised as being changed and thus back in play, but I don't see it - she was smart and ambitious before, and only gained a bit of wit during her trip to France - certainly not the drastic change everyone seemed to be making it out to be. There are some very poorly done scenes where supporting cast spell out the politics of the situation for you. This is a little condescending and probably unnecessary, if not repetitive. The costumes are beautiful, but the matching dresses become unbelievable and even plain in places. PETA must have a field day with this movie and its use of fur and meat. You won't get to see Scarlett Johansson naked in this movie, in case you were wondering - just lots of fuzzy sex montages, weirdly full of backlit hair and fur. Katherine of Aragon (Henry VIII's first wife) is given some of the most powerful lines in the movie, but they're delivered with such woodenness that my disappointment must be made known.

The Other Boleyn Girl could be so much more. As a hyper-dramatic costume flick, it does stand out. There's more than meets your eye, and the costarring performances are not to be missed. There's a lot of material to cover in this story, but a simplified script would have helped keep this film farther away from melodrama. Especially with a true story as wild as this, there's not a lot that needs to be changed or added to grip the viewer. Any embellishments verge on destroying believability and creating situations we can't relate to.

5 years ago

A Film Worth Seeing for the Issues of Gender

5/10 The Other Boleyn Girl is a compelling film due to the exceptional performances and the splendid costumes. Additionally, there is simply a terrific story told about the relationship of Henry VIII and the two Boleyn sisters, Anne and Mary.

Natalie Portman (Anne) and Scarlett Johansson (Mary) are outstanding as characters engaged in both sibling rivalry and sisterly bonding. In the central relationship of the sisters, the film develops the social roles and imposed limitations on women in Tudor England.

One of the film's most moving character portrayals is the mother of the two Boleyn Sisters. In the heartbreaking performance of Kristin Scott Thomas, Elizabeth Boleyn can only watch helplessly as her daughters become pawns of the greedy men (Thomas Boleyn and the Duke of Norfolk), who use the young women much like pimps in order to line their pockets and further their own advancement at court. Another sterling aspect of the film is the portrayal of Katherine of Aragon (Ana Torent), another victim of the men due to the obsessive pursuit of Henry VIII to beget a male heir, leading to his momentous divorce from Katherine and England's break with the church of Rome.

While commentators may point out the omissions of many of the details from the novel by Philippa Gregory, the film is still true to the spirit of the book. It is also a faithful representation of the role of women in Tudor age. The film effectively presents the gender issues from the perspective of many of the remarkable women of the age along with the reminder of the greatest legacy of Anne Boleyn, which was the indirect result of her relationship of Henry VIII. That legacy was the future ruler of England...and also a woman: Elizabeth I.

5 years ago

Don't go expecting accuracy!

6/10 Overall, the movie is entertaining. I thought the acting was good, particularly Scarlett Johansson's. The cinematography and editing leave much to be desired, and the entire movie seems rushed. If you have any knowledge of Tudor history,you will recognize the many inaccuracies, but those did not bother me as much as did the fact that important characters were omitted, undeveloped, or even seemingly forgotten (as in the case of Mary's husband, William Carey).

There ARE very affecting characters and scenes, but I left the theatre wishing for MORE. The fascinating lives of these people simply cannot be dealt with in a movie that lasts less than two hours.

5 years ago

Outrageously Inaccurate

3/10 The "Other Boleyn Girl" hit theaters today, and of course, I was in for the first showing. I've been anticipating this movie for over 2 years now, ever since I first heard it was in production.

Why can't directors seem to get it right when it comes to this time period?I understand completely the Hollywood concept of "dramatic" flair for the big screen. But there is a difference between "dramatic flair" and complete revisionist history. This movie makes the HBO series, "The Tudors" seem like a BBC documentary as far as factual information is concerned.

Now, the director is not all to blame. Phillippa Gregory does a damn good job of distorting the truth in this alternate interpretation of the story of Anne Boleyn. Her portrayal of Anne as ruthlessly ambitious and downright devilish is at odds with the softer portrayals favored by Jean Plaidy and other authors of this period. Anne's own diaries would suggest her true personality to be more of the unwilling victim and royal pawn in the schemes cooked up by her ambitious male relatives. Only when she discovered that her path in life would be to submit or face death or exile does she succumb to Henry's advances.

The opening scenes of the movie concern how Anne and Henry met. Well, there is debate on this, the movie selects Hever. I'll allow that. But this first it was most certainly not in front of the whole court and followed by a hunt in which Henry takes a tumble, to be nursed back to health by Mary, Anne's OLDER sister (the movie and book portrays her as the younger sister-this is false). Anne's ambitions are apparent from this very day, she indeed seems to find her father and uncle's schemes appealing and agrees to "hunt" his majesty. Hardly the case in reality. Anne was in love with and betrothed to Henry Percy at the time of her first meeting with Henry. The movie has it backwards. She does not "settle" for Percy only after Mary has "stolen" Henry. Another extremely annoying point of order here .Cardinal Wolsey is completely absent from this film. This is such a blaring error as to render the movie completely abominable. Wolsey is such a force in the entire drama, from the arrangement of the marriage AND the divorce, to all matters of state and religion in between to leave him out is both amateur and foolish, not to mention a missed opportunity for much needed plot thickening.

Running through the laundry list of other inaccuracies .Anne was not EXILED to France because she fumbled her attempt to seduce Henry. This is utterly ridiculous. It is well known that both Anne and Mary practically grew up in the French court from the time they were 12 to their late teens. Only then did the sisters join the English court, much less begin their dramas with the king. And she was not brought back to entertain Henry whilst Mary lay in with his child. Again Anne most strongly wanted to marry her first love, Henry Percy, Duke of Northumberland. But once Henry had set his eyes upon her and chose to make her his own, then and only then were her uncle and father's schemes put into motion. Their original intentions were to milk the long-going affair of her sister Mary for all it was worth.

Now, as for the "incest" theory. Gregory is taking a huge risk here by suggesting that the allegation levied upon Anne and her brother George was indeed founded in truth, borne out of Anne's desperation to get with child after her miscarriage. I do believe Anne was desperate to get pregnant quickly, and she was very close to her brother but this is a huge leap, and one true historians would never make. It also suggest that something other than Henry's brute desires were at play here when he charged them with treason, which is not the case. He simply wanted to be rid of Anne, to beget a male heir off of his next mistress.

And good gracious what of the rape scene? Not only is this disturbing, but so far fetched. Although Anne resisted for years, when she finally gave in to Henry, she did believe herself to be in love with him or at the very least, resigned to accept her fate. And Henry was completely besotted with her .why else would he break from Rome, Catholicism and risk his kingdom for anything less? No, he would not have raped Anne for their first sexual encounter. He was a brute, but he was most concerned of his image of the romantic courtier when it came to women's affections.

Finally, a note on the characters. Portman does an acceptable job portraying the character from the book even though this character is not the true Anne Boleyn. Johannson makes a lovely Mary and probably quite close to the real woman. As for Bana a sore disappointment. Bad casting, bad acting. Is this the same Bana of the acclaimed Munich and Troy? Where was the range? He comes across as flat and not well studied. Jonathon Rhys Meyers of the HBO Tudors blows him out of the water on all levels .sensuality, intensity and evil as Henry the 8th.

Why can't I just watch these movies and leave feeling entertained? I don't quite know I care too much about 15th century England for some reason. It became hardwired in me after watching Anne of the Thousand Days as a young girl. No Tudor movie since then has gotten close in accuracy or sheer entertainment since then. Burton and Bujold are classic and untouchable. But after watching this hack job, I have to say I am looking forward to the new season of the Tudors on HBO.

5 years ago