YOUNG QUEEN: Saoirse Ronan plays Mary, Queen of Scots, with Jack Lowden (left) as husband Henry Stuart. Inset: Margot Robbie as Queen Elizabeth.

Mary, Queen of Scots

  • Historic drama; Cert R13, contains violence, sexual violence and sex scenes; 2hrs 4mins
  • Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie, Joe Alwyn, Guy Pearce, David Tennant, Jack Lowden, Maria Dragus and Eileen O’Higgins
  • Director: Josie Rourke

THIS is not the first film about Mary, Queen of Scots, nor, as one of the more romantic figures of British history, is it likely to be the last.

Based on the award-winning book by John Guy, this story takes enough liberties with known facts to irritate historians and make it entertaining.

Saoirse Ronan acts her heart out as the young Catholic queen returning to the home of her birth to rule after the death of her husband.

However, this is very much a tale of two queens and Ronan’s star is outshone at every turn by Margot Robbie’s Queen Elizabeth.

The slightly older, wiser Protestant queen is depicted as much more vulnerable and paranoid beneath her thin veneer of power.

A terrific support cast also includes David Tennant playing an enjoyably fanatical John Knox and Guy Pearce as Elizabeth’s chief adviser William Cecil.

Jack Lowden (Dunkirk) plays Henry Stuart, Mary’s first cousin who becomes her second husband after winning her love in one of the film’s more controversial sex scenes.

Brendan Coyle (Downton Abby) smoulders his way disaprovingly through the role of Mary’s father-in-law.

To be honest, I found the cinematography, costumes and hairstyling the most entertaining part of the film, the storyline of which needs to be taken with a big pinch of salt.

7/10

diane.mccarthy@thebeacon.co.nz