REVIEW: Plot issues cause ‘Mary Queen of Scots’ to stumble

I really, really wanted to like this one more.

As the name implies, “Mary Queen of Scots” tells the story of Queen Mary of Scotland (Saoirse Ronan), who for much of her adult life, was a rival to England’s Queen Elizabeth (Margot Robbie). The film follows Mary returning to Scotland after some years away and assuming her responsibilities on the throne.

With time passing, Mary and her advisers see a legitimate claim to the English throne as well and decide to take action, with the idea of Mary replacing Elizabeth. Along with heritage, the situation is also driven by religion, with Mary being a Catholic and Elizabeth ruling as a Protestant.

The conflict between these two queens should have made for a much more compelling feature than this film actually is. While there are some great moments that take place here, they unfortunately end up being too few and far in between.

One of the issues is the poor plotting, with the passage of time and character motivations changing and shifting without enough consistency. Those hoping for a mental battle between these two strong women will likely be disappointed. Any time either one takes action on the conflict, the impacts always seem to be mitigated somehow in the story.

It’s also noticeable that the movie seems to skip over a fairly large and important section of Mary’s life that’s explained only with captions at the picture’s conclusion.

As expected, the highlight of “Mary” is the acting from the two leading performers. Both Ronan and Robbie do tremendous work here, especially during sequences of political intrigue. Ronan is great in giving Mary a personality and providing a fascinating look into the life of the queen. Robbie, meanwhile, does the most with her relatively limited screentime, bringing the legendary ruler to life in convincing fashion.

maryqueen
Courtesy Focus Features and Working Title.

The film also looks very good. The landscapes are all well captured, while the production, set and costume design is on point. From start to finish, the film is a visually good experience.

In the end, though, the plot just wasn’t as well executed as it should have been. Despite featuring award caliber performances and a look that’s easy on the eyes, the film lacks a real hook to get audiences invested and is never consistently engaging. 2.5 out of 5.

Advertisements

Author: Matthew Liedke

I'm a reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer in Minnesota, and I also have a passion for the art of film. This passion led me to start writing about film in 2008. From 2008-2016 I wrote pieces at my own website, After the Movie Reviews. Then, from 2016-May 2018, my write-ups were featured on AreaVoices, a blog network run by Forum Communications Company. Today, I write film reviews and other pieces here on Word Press. More about me: I'm a 2009 graduate of Rainy River College and a 2012 graduate of Minnesota State University in Moorhead. At MSU, I studied journalism and film. Outside of movies, I enjoy sports, video games, anime and craft beers.

One thought on “REVIEW: Plot issues cause ‘Mary Queen of Scots’ to stumble”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s