Movie: The Other Boleyn Girl
Director/Studio: Justin Chadwick / Focus Features
10 Word Review: Terribly scripted, inconsistent performances, and a ton of wasted potential.
Best Thing About It: The story. There's a lot to be told about this story -- not just Anne Boleyn's story in general (that's been told, though not overly so), but this particular take on the story, where we see how a woman advances herself when the only agency she has lies in her ability to turn the head of a powerful man, and whether it's worth it to even try. Particularly with a man so fickle as the way Henry VIII is depicted here. Of the two Boleyn sisters, Anne is the ambitious one while Mary the virtuous one who desires only a simple life, and in the course of the story their paths divert and reestablish themselves again, and it all could have been something worth telling.
Worst Thing About It: The script. That God-forsaken script. I haven't winced so much at dialogue in my life. It takes this story that's flush with possibility and gives it all the depth of a Gossip Girl episode. A really bad Gossip Girl episode, not one of the ones you secretly enjoy. It's not just the leaden, uninspired, period-unsuitable dialogue either, it's the way the story gets boiled down to Anne getting punished for being a cocktease and Mary being allowed to be the golden farmer's daughter for the rest of her days. I kept waiting for a subversive undercurrent to sweep in and let me know this isn't just the same story we've seen told a thousand times before. Yes, women pay for their ambition, and they certainly did in 16th century England, but to boil the story down to "Anne Boleyn tried to be a maneater and she ended up paying for it but good" is a total waste of time.
Best Performance: Kristin Scott Thomas, I suppose, whose Elizabeth Boleyn kind of gets the Tina-Fey-in-Mean-Girls role as she constantly tries to tell her daughters they really don't have to whore themselves out and turn on each other for the benefit of the men in their lives. I'm a sucker for those steel-and-sadness portrayals. Though I should mention that Scarlett Johansson has a good handle on her character and does a fine job. Particularly when compared to an inconsistent Natalie Portman (who really suffers from the script's shortcomings) and Eric Bana's perma-glower.
Oscar Prospects: Nil. Ain't the season for it, for one thing, and also because it's crap. Unless it's a really weak year and Sandy Powell has nothing else to get a Best Costumes nomination for.Grade: C-