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Mary Queen of Scots  (DVD)


Stars: Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie, Jack Lowden, Martin Compston, David Tennant, Guy Pearce, Adrian Lester, Joe Alwyn, Ian Hart, Brendan Coyle, Gemma Chan, Ismael Cruz Cordova, Simon Russell Beale

Director: Josie Rourke

Lumpenly heavy and torpid in pace, this well-dressed biopic, mainly about the early years of its doomed protagonist. is authentically Scottish in tooth and claw, fashionably visceral in its inevitable homo-eroticism and contains some real Scottish actors near the top of its cast, notably Compston's Lord Rothwell, whose character changes bewilderingly two-thirds of the way through a draggy narrative, and Tennant, who catches the eye as a fiery John Knox.

But the film focuses heavily on its title character, a pretender to the English throne and a difficult role for the talented Roman - while Robbie's Elizabeth I (Mary's cousin) scarcely gets a look in.

Irish Ronan does assume a convincing soft Scottish accent (wouldn't she have a French one after her years at the French court?), but struggles somewhat with the mood swings of her character, from authoritative majesty, to highly-sexed woman desperate to give birth to a baby who could be the future king of England (and was); while Robbie just seems uneasily cast.

The drama does pack some impact, but is too fragmented to lead to any mounting suspense.

David Quinlan

UK 2018. UK Distributor: Universal. Colour by Company 3.
119 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 15 May 2019