Mary Queen of Scots may or may not be historically inaccurate, but it is definitely in need of work.
Directed by Josie Rourke - a very productive director of the stage - Mary Queen of Scots marks the first feature film and while it has all the markings of great direction and theatricality, Mary Queen of Scots feels like it overstays its welcome, and generally unremarkable in the medium.
Saoirse Ronan brings the titular queen to life, continuing being a damn fine force in acting. In fact all the performances here are fantastic, from Austrailian Margot Robbie doing her best as Elizabeth I to the always brilliant David Tennant in a role that while relevant to the story also feels entirely unnecessary.
The problem is that while Mary Queen of Scots is full of brilliant political intrigue, it makes for a particularly dry and bland movie. Sometimes it gets bogged down with the want to be true to history while also trying to be engaging that it fits in a little bit of everything and not enough of something great. One or two scenes stick out as highlights but the rest unfortunately feel drawn out so much so that if you weren’t interested in the history or snapped it by its opening, you’re in for a slog.
All the elements of the filmmaking individually hold strong, in fact if this doesn’t win for both Best Costume Design and Best Hair and Makeup I will be surprised, because on the eyes this film is gorgeous in those regards.
It just remains a shame that this movie pushes 2 hours but certainly feels better if it were much less. It doesn’t help that TV has become a home for similar stories told in a much better format in a much more engaging style.
Mary Queen of Scots probably would fare much better on the stage. Attention spans shouldn’t be a criticism towards film, but it does feel like this very small film with the odd establishing shot and battle would have fared best in a theatre rather than a cinema. It just feels dry and drawn out and developed in not always the best way.