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The Other Boleyn Girl
by: NewsMaiden 09 march 08
First there's the idiot-dialogue which wavers between banal and soap opera. Apart from two stand-out performances by Kristen Scott-Thomas and David Morrissey, it reeks of comic-book land. Some of the others can act - Cumberbatch, Portman, etc ... but Johanson keeps proving how comparitively bad she really is. Plus, her features really jarred in that family - coarse and bulbous next to mum and sis. It's what made her so right for Girl With A Pearl Earring, and so very wrong for this.
But the main problem is the treatment of the material. There's just no drama. Oh, there's incident. Plenty of incident. And then this happened. And then that happened. blah-blah-blah. But there's a strange wall between us and the characters. A wall almost of prurience - which might at least have been engaging, but not quite, so it just makes us always the outsider with no focus of identification. I'm sure Phillipa Gregory's book is spot-on with historical fact ... but the film leaves out all the more subtle political ramifications of Henry's alliances ... especially with King Phillip of Spain, which after all erupted during Elizabeth's reign with the defeat of the Armada.
So it's not beautifully illustrated documentary [though it does look sumptuous], it's not Mills & Boon [however hard it tries], and it's certainly not drama. We just don't care about anyone, and cannot find enough to relate to our own time.
It didn't surpise me at all to see David M Thompson's name attached. He has the imagination of a pebble, but enough sense to recognize a good subject. Documentary courses through his veins and the best he's managed in all his decades at the Beeb is a facility for controlling docu-drama, most successfully when he's hands off. His original BBC telly version of The Other Boleyn Girl - which he also executive produced - was much more successful and seemed to transcend its smaller screen concept.
This version tries to fold in on itself like a souffle mixture, but it splits, leaving us with a mouthful of well-decorated air.
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