Archive for September 15th, 2008

September 15, 2008

>The Other Boleyn Girl

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It’s always easier to enjoy a film when one hears and reads only bad things about it. Especially when you see this film in order to fulfill part of a sunday afternoon, in the company of lots of popcorn and soda pop. In short, I didn’t really expect much from The Other Boleyn Girl, but I liked it, and even left the theater willing to find out more about Anne Boleyn’s life, the queen whose failed marriage costed her own life. At least, that’s all I knew about her before seeing the film, as the film itself doesn’t really add a lot more within the story. The first time I heard of Anne Boleyn was while seeing that 1930s comedy starred by Charles Laughton as the obese king Henry VIII. The character appears for a short moment, somehow melancholic, but bold enough to accept her fate. In this recent film, it’s a little different. Anne is nothing but tears in an overdramatic performance by Natalie Portman, who disappointed me again for the second time in a historical film (the first one was Goya’s Ghosts). Somehow it’s not only entirely her fault, as the film tends to climax through blood and tears, like many epic movies do, although here the result won’t be as memorable as for example, in The Last of the Mohicans or even Gladiator (weird comparissons, huh?).

Epics can be a great format to describe historical lives, such as Elizabeth’s (Anne’s only daughter, btw) in that late 1990s film starred by Cate Blanchett in a flawless performance, which deserved the Oscar over Gwyneth’s (but that’s another subject), in The Other Boleyn Girl however, it would have been better a more intimate story centered in Anne’s personality, through the point of view of those who really knew her and loved her. I haven’t read the book that inspired the film, but I heard it follows this direction (correct me, those of you who have read the book, if I’m wrong). Of course that Anne is the only real character we get a chance to know more about, as the other characters who share the movie poster with Natalie are one-sided. Eric Bana portrays Henry, evil as a king and an asshole as a man, so common place that not even a final meeting with Anne’s sister and a letter are capable of showing neither complexity nor understanding for his character. Scarlett Johansson as Mary Boleyn is portrayed as a submissive woman of her time, whose behaviour is as predictable as Henry’s next infatuations.

Therefore the hardest performance to deliver is the one by Natalie as Anne, who finds the right tone in the beggining, as an apparently innocent young woman whose temper and intelligence intimidate men, and later as a more “adequate” woman, “a woman that allows men to believe that they, indeed, are in charge”, in her mother’s own words. That said, Anne uses her intelligence summed to these new “qualities” to manipulate the king and pursue her ambition of becoming a queen. Until here Natalie’s performance is satisfactory, but from the moment Anne’s life begins to fade, so does Natalie’s acting. It’s hard to believe that such a strong and wit woman would “suddenly” turn out so unsure of herself, as Anne does towards the ending. Despite some flaws, like its messy editing, The Other Boleyn Girl made me care for the two sisters’ destiny, and was at least entertaining enough for a sunday afternoon.
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