The Other Boleyn Girl

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner5/03/2008

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 114 mins

Enjoyable drama, enlivened by strong performances and impressive production design, though it does feel a little trashy in places.

What's it all about?
Eric Bana stars as Henry VIII, whose first wife, Catherine of Aragon (Ana Torrent) is unable to give him a male heir. The ambitious Duke of Norfolk (David Morrissey) sees this as an opportunity and he schemes to have his sister's daughter Anne Boleyn (Natalie Portman) installed as the King's mistress.

Despite Anne's best efforts, the King instead takes notice of her quieter sister Mary (Scarlett Johansson) and soon Mary is persuaded to leave her husband (Benedict Cumberbatch) and become the King's mistress, eventually bearing him a child. However, when Anne is charged with maintaining the King's interest in Mary while she is pregnant, the King begins to take a fancy to Anne instead and she jealously decides to exploit her opportunity for everything it's worth.

The Good
Scarlett Johansson displays the same aptitude for costume drama here as she did in Girl With A Pearl Earring, delivering a genuinely moving performance that forms the heart of the film. Portman is saddled with a less sympathetic character and has a few dodgy acting moments at the beginning, but her performance improves as the film goes on, while there's strong support from both David Morrissey and from Kristin Scott-Thomas (as the girls' mother, Elizabeth).

The production design is extremely impressive and director Justin Chadwick keeps things moving at a fairly hectic pace, although this occasionally backfires because it seems like he's rushing things (for example, Henry's decision to break with the Catholic Church is only mentioned in passing). Similarly, Eric Bana is given surprisingly little to do, though he at least has decent chemistry with Johansson in their scenes together.

The Great
It's fair to say that the film feels a little trashy in places, but the story is undeniably fascinating and there are at least two terrific scenes that'll have you holding your breath in suspense.

Worth seeing?
In short, The Other Boleyn Girl is a thoroughly enjoyable costume drama with strong performances and a sharply written script. Recommended.

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The Other Boleyn Girl
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Content updated: 19/10/2019 01:44

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