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The Other Boleyn Girl

September 6, 2010

The Other Boleyn Girl (2007)
Director: Justin Chadwick
Actors: Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Eric Bana

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Synopsis: The world of the Boleyn sisters, Mary and Anne (Scarlet Johansson and Natalie Portman respectively) – and indeed the future of England – is irrevocably changed when Henry VIII (Eric Bana) enters their lives.

ReviewThe Other Boleyn Girl is a thoroughly satisfying historical romp that makes no pretense at being an insightful or artful study of the lives of the Boleyn sisters and their association with Henry VIII, instead conceiving of those narrative elements in a more conventional and familiar genre format. The sensibility of the film reflects this functional conception: the storytelling is brusque and travels at a breakneck speed through its various junctures, and artistic flourishes are strictly utilitarian (conspicuous costume stylisation or musical score) to emphasise a scene’s narrative subtext.

A strictly narrative film like this therefore tends to live or die on the strength of its cast, and fortunately The Other Boleyn Girl boasts a series of excellent performances. The three non-Brits in the main roles acquit themselves surprisingly well: Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson dovetail to perfect effect in look and sensibility to create the dichotomy at the centre of the film, and Eric Bana – not always the most charismatic of actors – portrays the cipher-like Henry with the requisite gusto and brutishness. The film also benefits from a stolid support cast of familiar faces (including Mark Rylance, Kristin Scott Thomas, David Morrisey and Benedict Cumberbatch) who ably service and embellish the colourful drama. (March 2008)

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