The true story of Mary Stuart, the rightful heir to the Scottish
throne and the cousin of Queen Elizabeth I of England.
Mary Queen of Scots (2018)
Directed by Josie Rourke
Written by Beau Willimon
Starring Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie, Jack Lowden,
Joe Alwyn, Guy Pearce, James McArdle, David Tennant,
Ismael Cruz Cordova, Martin Compston, Brendan Coyle
Based on the book Queen of Scots:
The True Life of Mary Stuart by John Guy
Oscar Nominations - Best Makeup, Best Costume Design
Throughout world history, powerful women have always been seen as a threat to the powers of men. The story of Mary Stuart, the Queen of Scotland, shows this sad fact of life better than most. Mary was the unmarried heir to the throne of Scotland and wanted to unite her people and rule together with her cousin Elizabeth I, who ruled England. But Mary's council conspired against her and once she had a husband, they stopped at nothing to take the throne away from her and give it to a man. Elizabeth didn't face the same threat to her power, as she knew marrying a lord would threaten her crown. Mary Queen of Scots is a powerful film that shines a spotlight on a strong woman who was demonized and executed simply because the noblemen of Scotland would never see her as their monarch.
Saoirse Ronan plays Mary Stuart in yet another strong, subdued performance that paints Mary as a woman struggling to keep her sanity and her rage from bottling over in the midst of chaos. Her chemistry with Margot Robbie, who portrays Elizabeth, is flawless, even if they do share only one scene together. The ensemble of Scottish and English lords all perform great, including Guy Pearce, Joe Alwyn, Jack Lowden, and David Tennant. This film never shies away from the sexism that Mary and Elizabeth both endured, as the majority of both their councils thought them unfit to rule simply because they were women. This made the film equal parts upsetting and eye-opening.
Mary Stuart's life was a tragedy, from the conspiracy of malcontents surrounding her to the irony that it was her bloodline that would rule England through her only son James. The backlash from moviegoers surprises me, as I thought this film was quite moving and delivered a story I was unfamiliar with but fascinated by. I think Ronan and Robbie delivered marvelous performances and the film had some serious takeaways.