Queen of France at 16 and widow at 18, Mary Stuart challenges the pressure to remarry. Instead, she returns to her native Scotland to claim her legitimate throne. But Scotland and England are under the dominion of the convincing Elizabeth I. Each young queen contemplates her sister with fear and fascination. Rivals in power and love, and ruling women in a male world, the two must decide how to play the game of marriage versus independence.
Initial release: December 7, 2018 (USA)
Director: Josie Rourke
Based on: Queen of Scotland: The true life of Mary Stuart; by John Guy
Costume design: Alexandra Byrne
Distributed by: Focus Features (United States), Universal Pictures (International)
The story of Mary Queen Of Scots has everything a filmmaker could want. Three tumultuous marriages, rumors and a tragic death by order of his cousin, Elizabeth I of England, almost lead to too much drama. Director Josie Rourke finds a way to focus on a relatable story about women struggling to survive a man’s world, though at times it sacrifices historical credibility to do so.
We meet Mary (Ronan) and her bridesmaids when they return from France to assume their throne. Mary is well aware of her status: Queen of Scotland since she was a few months old and heiress of England, unless her cousin Elizabeth (Robbie) finally marries and has an heir. But Maria is Catholic on a Protestant island, and that makes her a threat.
Her own gentlemen, even her stepbrother-sympathizer James Murray (McArdle), see her as a possible fifth columnist who could slip away from the Pope to the country. The most puritan Scots, led by John Knox of David Tennant, see the fact that a female ruler is an additional outrage. And Elizabeth is in no way reconciled with having a younger and more beautiful queen looking at her throne.