03 January 2019, The Tablet

Movie marvels

by Anna Moore

Movie marvels

It’s 1569, and a group of Catholic noblemen from the north of England have decided it’s time to depose their Protestant queen and replace her with one of their own faith, from north of the border. Their attempt failed, of course: Elizabeth I remained on the throne, and the eventual fallout of the inability of the Percys and the Nevilles to achieve their ambition was the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots.

These events are at the heart of one of the first big movie releases of 2019: Mary Queen of Scots, out on 18 January, which offers a new take on a well-trodden tale and examines not only the relationship between the two cousin-queens, but also the impact the men around them had on their feelings towards one another.

Elizabeth is played by Margot Robbie, but it’s Saoirse Ronan (pictured) who gives the standout performance as Mary, making her smart and sexy, powerful and confident in what she wants to achieve, while always realising she may end up, as she does, on the executioner’s block.

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