Combustible Celluloid
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With: Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Eric Bana, Jim Sturgess, Mark Rylance, Kristin Scott Thomas, David Morrissey, Benedict Cumberbatch, Oliver Coleman, Ana Torrent, Eddie Redmayne
Written by: Peter Morgan, based on a novel by Philippa Gregory
Directed by: Justin Chadwick
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic elements, sexual content and some violent images
Running Time: 115
Date: 02/15/2008

The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)

1 Star (out of 4)

Mistress Report

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The Other Boleyn Girl stars two of our most charismatic, beautiful and fascinating young actresses, Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman. That's almost too much charisma for one movie screen. I felt like I was ripping off someone by watching it. Sadly, it wasn't long before I realized that I was the one getting ripped off. The Other Boleyn Girl is already one of the worst movies of 2008. Mary Boleyn (Johansson) is depicted as a simple girl, who expects nothing more than to get married. But her craftier sister Anne (Portman) is prepared for more. When it becomes apparent that King Henry VIII (Eric Bana) is not going to produce a male heir with his current wife (Ana Torrent), Anne positions herself as a potential mistress. But of course, Henry falls instead for Mary, causing a rift between the sisters. Director Justin Chadwick, a BBC helmer who had somehow been entrusted to a version of Bleak House (2005), seems to have suddenly woken up behind the camera, with no idea of how he got there or what kind of film this is. No two minutes goes by without him planting his camera behind a pillar, lattice, partition or window frame. When Hitchcock did this, it meant someone was secretly watching. Here, it means: "Help! I have no idea what I'm doing!" While Chadwick struggles with his shots, the actors begin to flail out of control. By the second half, Bana winds up brooding and seething in the shadows while Johansson merely looks shocked. Some of the supporters show even less depth, such as the girls' nitwit brother George (Jim Sturgess) or the uncle (David Morrissey) who sets the whole plan in motion, and practically breathes evil in every scene. Portman somehow clutches to some semblance of dignity, and Kristin Scott Thomas as the girls' mother embodies most of the film's fleeting wisdom. The Other Boleyn Girl

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