Sometimes royal intrigue can be fun, like in Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite. Other times it can be war, and it’s the latter that we’re definitely getting in Mary Queen of Scots, a historical drama which finds Oscar nominees Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie vying for the crown.
Directed by Josie Rourke, the film centers on regal cousins Mary Stuart (Ronan) and Queen Elizabeth I (Robbie), who both have a claim on the throne. But of course, only one can be Queen at a time, and while they try to remain civil it’s only a matter of time before somebody makes a power play. The cast includes Gemma Chan, Jack Lowden, the ubiquitous Joe Alwyn, Martin Compston, Ismael Cordova, Brendan Coyle, Ian Hart, Adrian Lester, James McArdle, David Tennant, and Guy Pearce.
Here’s the synopsis: “Mary Queen of Scots” explores the turbulent life of the charismatic Mary Stuart (Ronan). Queen of France at 16 and widowed at 18, Mary defies pressure to remarry. Instead, she returns to her native Scotland to reclaim her rightful throne. But Scotland and England fall under the rule of the compelling Elizabeth I (Robbie). Each young Queen beholds her “sister” in fear and fascination. Rivals in power and in love, and female regents in a masculine world, the two must decide how to play the game of marriage versus independence. Determined to rule as much more than a figurehead, Mary asserts her claim to the English throne, threatening Elizabeth’s sovereignty. Betrayal, rebellion, and conspiracies within each court imperil both thrones – and change the course of history.
Mary Queen of Scots opens December 7th, but we get it here in DC on December 14th.