Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) rules over England during a long war with France. She’s too sick to truly rule so her closest confident Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) has to sometime rule in her stead. A young woman, Abigail (Emma Stone), desperate to get out of an arranged marriage and away from her dead-broke lifestyle, comes to the queen and asks for a job.
The first half of this movie didn’t know what it was trying to be. Does it want to be a tragedy or a comedy? It had this pattern of something dramatic happening only to have it undercut by something humorous. I would say, flat out, this does not work for this film, or probably any film. Tragedy is the exact opposite of comedy. In tragedies, serious things happen in incredibly emotional ways. In comedies, everything is transformed into one big joke. I dunno, I guess I might call this a dark comedy, except everything that you would expect to be made fun of, like the fact that the queen won’t stop eating sweets even though it’s making her horribly sick. In a comedy, this would be a big joke that they might call back to many times. But here they try to show it to us realistically and therefore you can’t help but feel sorry for her.
Truthfully, I think the whole thing is too tragic to really be able to laugh at any of these parts meant for levity. Therefore these parts do nothing to help the movie and just distract from the film’s main drive. Halfway through the film, it changes totally into a tragedy and is made better for it, but up to this point the film seemed to be suffering from some kind of identity crisis.
Outside of tonality problems, the story was pretty solid. A character-driven drama with a good script, take note “A Star is Born.” Here you have just as much melodrama as you want and still tell a well-crafted story. Sorry, I’m complaining about A Star is Born again, and not this movie. All I wanted to say was this movie had a good script to go off of, and they made a darn good film out of it.
I want to talk about various aspects of the story, but I can’t do that without spoiling anything. Which, considering this is advertised as basically “just another period piece movie,” it’s truly anything but, and I didn’t expect nearly as many levels to a story like this. This movie was made with passion and near-masterful technique, too bad about the tonality problems in the first half of the film as I would easily call this a perfect movie otherwise.
Well, nearly perfect, I just remembered one more thing. Some scenes are too long. This movie was made with 1970s sensibility. Not entirely a bad thing, but scenes from that decade were just too darn long, something the 80s was quick to rectify with tighter editing.
Oh, one more compliment as well, every aspect of the production design was amazing. The costumes, the sets, the natural lighting done with about a million candles for every night shoot. This movie was done very realistically and it shows.
+10: Nearly a masterpiece
-1: Some scenes are too long
+1: Acting from the entire cast is truly top notch
-2: First half of film held an inconsistent tone
+1: Really well-written script
+1: Awesome production design