Saturday, June 21, 2008
THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL
The Other Boleyn Girl is a historical drama about the reign of King Henry VIII of England. His Queen and first wife Catherine Of Aragon was not producing a male heir. Henry began sexual relationships with Mary Boleyn and her sister Anne. In order to marry Anne, he needed to divorce Catherine -- but the Pope would not allow the tie to Catholic Spain to be severed by a divorce. So Henry broke with the Catholic Church and founded the Church of England.
Those religious and political events are not the focus of this film. They remain in the background as the relationship between the blonde, nice sister Mary (played by Scarlett Johansson) and the scheming ambitious Anne (played by Natalie Portman) is the true subject of this film's story. (The film is based, somewhat loosely, on a novel, by Philippa Gregory which is based, somewhat loosely, on the known historical facts.) Though a "historical" drama, students facing a final exam or term paper on the Tudors in England might not want to rely on the details described in this movie as their basic research source.
The acting is excellent. Ana Torrent is very powerful as Catherine of Aragon. (Ana Torrent, by the way, is a distinguished Spanish actress who first gained notice as the child in the Spanish classic film Spirit Of The Beehive -- a film which in its attention to the mind of a young girl, but no other way, was a precurser of Pan's Labyrinth).
Accepting the film as a human scale drama of normal young women -- actually just girls at the beginning -- caught up in power plays with far more history and tradition than they can comprehend, this is an interesting story of sibling interactions and people just figuring things out as they grow up.