Mary Queen of Scots

Written by Beau Willimon who is best known for creating the critically acclaimed Netflix TV series House of Cards, Mary Queen of Scots is an enticing historical drama about a unique time in British history in which two strong female leaders vied for control over the British monarchy, and the film itself is anchored by two terrifically powerful actresses. As to be expected from the creator of the political thriller House of Cards, much of the movie is a series of sometimes convoluted acts of palace intrigue and outright violent conflict in order to decide who would be the rightful ruler of the United Kingdom. The story is set around the year 1569 after Mary Stuart, played by Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan, has returned to her native Scotland from France following the death of her first husband. With the support of the Scots and British Catholics, she claims legitimacy to take over the throne from the reigning monarch and her cousin Queen Elizabeth I, played by Oscar nominee Margot Robbie. In London, Elizabeth is surrounded in court by competing factions made up of her advisers, including William Cecil who is played by Guy Pearce and her lover Robert Dudley, played by Joe Alwyn. On the other side in Scotland, Mary who is proclaimed Mary Queen of Scots also has to deal with her own palace intrigue, including her second husband Lord Darnley who is played by Jack Lowden, at the same time dealing with the firebrand Protestant minister John Knox who is played by David Tennant. Tensions between the two intensify after Mary has a child who could make a legitimate claim to being an heir, while Elizabeth remains childless without a strong desire to marry a husband. Although at times the script can seem uneven and be complicated to the casual viewer, the true strength of the film is the brilliant acting performances from the lead actresses who give off an air of royalty and their costumes and makeup look very realistic for the time. Overall, I found it to be an enjoyable historical drama that albeit slightly flawed is a movie worthy to watch if you are a fan of the historical film genre and looking for tour-de-force acting performances.

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