The Other Boleyn Girl (2008) – REVIEW

by Jordache Wee

Release Date: February 15, 2008
Directed by: Justin Chadwick
Music by: Paul Cantelon
Starring: Natalie Portman, Eric Bana, Jim Sturgess, Scarlett Johansson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Mark Rylance, Ana Torrent, David Morrissey, Eddie Redmayne, Benedict Cumberbathc, Oliver Coleman, Juno Temple, Iain Mitchell, Andrew Garfield, Corinne Galloway, Bill Wallis, Constance Stride, Maisie Smith

During the 16th century, Catherine  of Aragon (Ana Torrent) is married to King Henry VIII (Eric Bana) of England. However, she has yet to bore him a son. So, the Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Howard (David Morrissey) and Thomas Boleyn (Mark Rylance) decides to arrange his daughter, Anne Boleyn (Natalie Portman) to marry the King.

Howard and Boleyn does this to not only please the King but to their own political benefits if Anne becomes the mother of the King’s son.

In the beginning, Anne refuses because she does not want to be a mistress as it will also stain her reputation but she finally gave in for her father and uncle’s sake. Anne’s sister, Mary (Scarlett Johansson) marries William Carey (Benedict Cumberbatch), who proposed to her earlier when she rejected him.

While visiting the Boleyn estate, Henry is injured in a hunting accident, indirectly caused by Anne, and is nursed by Mary. While in her care, Henry becomes smitten with her and invites her to court. With great reluctance, Mary and William agree, knowing what will be expected of her. Mary and Anne become ladies-in-waiting to Queen Catherine and Henry sends William away on an assignment for the royal court. Separated from her husband, Mary finds herself falling in love with Henry.

Anne (Natalie Portman) and Mary Boleyn (Scarlett Johansson)

Anne secretly marries the nobleman Henry Percy (Oliver Coleman), who was engaged to Anne Talbot. Anne confides in her brother, George (Jim Sturgess), who is overjoyed and tells Mary about the secret marriage.

George Boleyn (Jim Sturgess)

Fearing Anne will ruin her reputation by marrying without the king’s consent, Mary alerts her father and uncle about the secret elopement. The men confront Anne, who argues that what has been done before God can not be undone.

Despite this, the marriage is annulled and she is exiled to France in disgrace. Feeling that Mary betrayed her to increase her own status, Anne vows revenge.

Despite the scandal, the family’s fortunes seem secure when Mary becomes pregnant. They receive a number of new grants and estates, so their debts are paid and Henry arranges for George to marry Jane Parker, despite George wanting nothing to do with her.

When Mary nearly suffers a miscarriage, she is confined to bed until her child is born. Norfolk recalls Anne to England to keep Henry’s attention from wandering to another rival, particularly Jane Seymour.

Still deeply hurt by Mary’s betrayal, Anne drives Henry to vow to never again bed his wife or speak to Mary. Anne exacts this promise just after Mary gives birth to the much-anticipated son, Little Henry, making her victory hollow. Shortly afterwards, at Anne’s suggestion, Henry sends Mary and her son (Little Henry is dubbed a bastard) to the country. Shortly after her return, Mary’s husband, William, dies from the sweating sickness.

The ambitious Anne encourages Henry to break from the Roman Catholic Church when the Pope refuses to annul his marriage to Queen Katherine, despite Henry’s insistence that her marriage to his older brother was consummated.

King Henry VIII (Eric Bana)

Henry succumbs to Anne’s demands, breaks from the Roman Catholic Church, declares himself Supreme Head of the Church of England, and gets Thomas Wolsey to annul his marriage to Katherine. The scandal of Anne’s brief marriage to Henry Percy threatens her coming marriage to Henry until Mary, the only one Henry will trust, returns to court and lies on Anne’s behalf, assuring him her union with Percy was not consummated.

Despite her plan’s success, Anne’s schemes drive Henry to breaking point and in a fit of rage, sexually assaults her after refusing to lie with him until they are married. Hurt and confused by the attack, a now pregnant Anne must go through with the unhappy marriage to please her family and becomes the new Queen of England. Mary and Anne reach a reconciliation and Mary stays with her sister at court. She meets William Stafford (Eddie Redmayne), a brave soldier in the English army, and the two fall deeply in love.

Despite the birth of a healthy daughter, Elizabeth, Henry is angry with Anne’s failure to deliver a son and legitimate male heir to the throne. He also begins courting Jane Seymour in secret, which doesn’t help Anne’s slowly crumbling psyche. After she loses a son after birth, a hysterical Anne begs George to impregnate her since Henry will sleep with her.

While Mary runs away, disgusted with her siblings incest. Before they can go through with it, however, George begins to cry, and Anne decides that they should not sleep with each other. However, George’s neglected wife, Jane, witnesses enough of their encounter to become suspicious and hurt (since he will not lie with her).

She reports what she has seen and both Anne and George are arrested. Despite the lack of evidence, the two are found unanimously guilty and sentenced to death for treason, adultery and incest. Distraught by news, Elizabeth Boleyn disowns both her husband and brother, vowing never to forgive them for what their greed had done to her children.

Before Anne leaves for execution, she asks Mary to promise to take care of Elizabeth if anything should happen to her. Mary watches from the crowd as Anne makes her final speech, waiting for the execution to be cancelled as Henry promised. A letter from Henry is given to Mary, which reveals he has decided not to stop the execution and save Anne. It also tells Mary that she was only spared because of his respect for her and warns her never to come to court again. Horrified, she watches as her sister is beheaded. Mary then fulfills her last promise to Anne and leaves court with the toddler Elizabeth.

The closing captions reveal that Thomas Boleyn, disgraced and alone, died two years after Anne and George’s executions. Elizabeth Boleyn died a year after her husband while The Duke of Norfolk was later imprisoned in the Tower. Meanwhile, Mary married William Stafford and lived happily with him and their children away from the royal court for the rest of her life.

The captions also reveal that Henry should not have been concerned about leaving England with a strong heir because, in fact, he did: An heir who would rule England for forty-five years and transform it into one of the most powerful nations in Europe. However, it was not the son he desired, but the strong red-haired girl Anne gave him: Queen Elizabeth I.

Reviewer’s Note:
A sad tale of Queen Elizabeth I’s mother. The King not only unreasonable but a womanizer. But it all started with greed and power from Anne’s father and uncle.

A film about the royal betrayal and trust between both sisters, Anne and Mary. But how true is the story of beheading the Queen’s mother? We do not know. But words spread rumors and we just have to accept it even it’s a lie.

It’s not decent to mention that the Queen’s mother had incest relationship with the brother, George.

Excellent story and plot!


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