You don’t need a degree in English or Scottish history to appreciate that what looks like internecine spycraft and occasionally outright warfare—between the 16th-century thrones of Mary Stuart (Saoirse Ronan) in Scotland and Elizabeth I (Margot Robbie) in England—is, in fact, the undermining of two reasonable women trying to unite their nations, their efforts thwarted by men with their own agendas and fueled by some very angry misogyny. Gender is as much a tribe as religion is in the smart, sly script by House of Cards’ Beau Willimon, sometimes both at once. British stage director Josie Rourke makes her film directing debut with this anti-costume drama, one with an ethos far earthier than we might expect; the smells of sweat and sex practically waft off the screen, and female pleasure is a priority. The commanding central performances from Ronan and Robbie elevate Mary Queen of Scots to a must-see parable that resonates for us today: Their struggle as women to be heard in a world in which men are willfully deaf to them is shockingly modern.
Director: Josie Rourke
Producer: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward, Amelia Granger, Liza Chasin and Kate Pakenham
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie, Jack Lowden, Joe Alwyn, David Tennant, Guy Pearce, Gemma Chan, Martin Compston, Ismael Cruz Cordova, Brendan Coyle, Ian Hart, Adrian Lester, James McArdle, Maria-Victoria Dragus, Eileen O'Higgins, Liah O'Prey and Andrew Rothney