What an enigma of a film…. despite having two of my favourite female lead actresses Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman in its starring roles this film still does very little to excite me. I saw it at the cinema and later dutifully bought it on DVD to round out my Johansson collection… and then never watched it. Now we have the HG upgrade and I’ve had to go back and watch both to assess the improvement in quality. There is an improvement but it’s not astonishing. It’s probably worth the upgrade if you are a fan of the film though as this very regal film does deserve to be shown in its best kingly robes.
So we have a story of two sisters. Anne and Mary grow from young children playing together. Later we have two sisters locked in competition with each other over the love of a King. Anne is ostensibly the sharper and more confident of the sisters, impressed by social status and keen to improve her own status by encouraging the King’s interest in herself. She soon executes a plan to serve as Henry’s mistress.
The screenplay is based on Philippa Gregory's novel and is written by Peter Morgan. It’s far from perfect however. Justin Chadwick’s direction is also sadly flawed and the effect of the two coupled together is uninspiring. The film is not bad, but it lacks some flair and style. It looks nice. The costumes are delightful but the film as a whole simply lacks something that would transform it from being a perfectly adequate filn into being something that would really impress and excite. It’s damp when it should be on fire.
Johansson – as she was in The Girl With a Pearl Earring – lacks sex appeal, at least for most of the film – she is clearly playing against type! And Natalie Portman has to behave quite badly for most of the film. Her character is fairly evil. Again playing against type. Portman is cute as a button and harmless as a lamb. Mind you she turned it on in Black Swan. But both the lead actresses her were not living up to their own admittedly high standards. Eric Bana does his best to be the grumpy King Henry but he is wasted here and his part is strangely underwritten.
The Other Boleyn Girl is not a bad film, but it lacks the heart and soul needed to be a great film. Extras are ported over from the DVD release. Nothing new.