Pin It
Favorite

Take Two 

The Other Boleyn Girl & r & & r & by MICHAEL BOWEN & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & S & lt;/span & cheming minx, adulterous harlot, craven weasel, heartless pimp: Boleyn family values.





The Other Boleyn Girl may not be big on complexity of characterization, but it features a high incidence of bodice-ripping. It's just a soap opera, but it's a soap opera with rich-looking people in period costume and speaking with British accents, so you know it's way more sophisticated than the juvenile fare that plays on daytime TV. Those are merely sensationalized serial dramas, but this ... this is history.





Sorry, no. What this is, is Knots Landing or Dallas with the limousines and ten-gallon hats replaced by royal coaches and those floppy Renaissance hats.





With more than 700 pages of a romance-novel approach to history to slosh around in, Phillippa Gregory could immerse her readers in boatloads of character motivation. A two-hour movie needs some giddy-up, however, and especially in the last half-hour, director Justin Chadwick rushes to cram in all manner of historical incidents. He even explores the potential of the ol' last-minute-reprieve-from-the-governor, er, king device.





The Other Boleyn Girl loses no opportunity to have the two sisters huddle (at first supportively, then in jealousy, then with claws fully extended) just before one or the other of them enters an ornate bedroom for a night of hot sweaty Tudor love with whichever husband/adulterous nobleman/rakish king is at hand. (It's hard to keep track. Sluts.)





As "the King! the King!" (cue pounding of horses' hooves), Eric Bana's main function is to cast smoldering looks while brooding and wearing broad-shouldered coats made from the fur of several different marsupials. In public, he does much clenching and unclenching of his bejeweled fists. But he prefers his privacy, lying all snuggly near the fire in his lair until the next wench is brought to him and he can show off glimpses of his writhing torso. It's a portrait of Henry as playboy tyrant -- like Stalin without the walrus face, but with a stronger sex drive.





OBG does have value in providing a sense of what it must have been like to live under a system of arranged aristocratic marriages and inherited, whimsical tyranny. A Boleyn girl simply has no chance with an uncle (played by the venomous David Morrissey) who thrusts them at the king and then demands to know whether he "had" them, and how often. Kristin Scott Thomas, as the Boleyns' mother, provides about the only character worth rooting for, since she has the fortitude to protest.





OBG is saddled with the problems of much historical fiction (too much exposition, telescoped dates) and with additional, self-imposed problems. Feminist historians have lionized Anne as a strong, independent woman who threatened the good ol' boys of her era. But novelist Gregory, adopting the revisionist views of a few historians, turns Anne into a manipulative hussy. There's not much room for nuance here, and Natalie Portman doesn't find it.





During the first act, clearly we're supposed to care about the two Boleyn girls' fates, when they hadn't yet even been properly distinguished from each other. Oh, wait, now I get it: Scarlett Johansson is Mary Boleyn the goody-goody, and Portman is Anne the flirtatious, scheming witch. Now that that's sorted, we can skip across the plot points and keep things moving. We might have franchise possibilities here.





Wait, I've got the title for the sequel: Elizabethan Catfight! Or maybe they could just try this: No More Boleyn Girls.

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Crash > Click > Cash
  • Crash > Click > Cash

    Lawyers and chiropractors already have your name, your address and the police report from your car accident — and they want you to hire them
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • Starting Small
  • Starting Small

    A village of tiny houses in Spokane Valley could serve as a model for fighting homelessness in the region
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • Drastic Action
  • Drastic Action

    Spokane among seven school districts sued by State Superintendent of Public Instruction; plus, trio of police-chief finalists are in town
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun
Spokane Artist Trading Card Swap

Spokane Artist Trading Card Swap @ Boots Bakery & Lounge

Last Wednesday of every month

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Michael Bowen

Most Commented On

  • Lane Ends Ahead

    Spokane wants to improve a mile-long section of Monroe — but that means taking away two lanes
    • Jul 7, 2016
  • Too Smart for School

    What happens when a 12-year-old prodigy tries to go to college in Spokane?
    • Jun 30, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

green zone


marijuana


Briefs


election 2016


trail mix


Readers also liked…

  • Hard to Swallow
  • Hard to Swallow

    Big changes could be coming to how Washington state regulates medical pot
    • Feb 11, 2015
  • Hearts and Minds
  • Hearts and Minds

    Why the Inlander spent the past year examining the mental health system
    • Dec 30, 2014

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation