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Mary Queen of Scots Movie Review (2018) | Remember the Queen

What a debut for Josie Rourke! She makes a grand entry with Mary Queen of Scots movie, a project so towering that you already knew beforehand, the story of Mary Stuart couldn’t be done justice by any possible film. But Josie makes you rethink your opinion putting one of the most popular and solid perspectives in place inside a motion picture. However, the picture Josie tries to paint remains incomplete on so many levels even after she gives it her best shot. There are so many things that remain unaddressed that you realize after all a movie could never have done Mary Queen of Scots justice in the first place.

For people who have never come across this historical account, Josie Rourke’s adaptation of John Guy‘s book gives you a pretty good picture of what went down once, when the supposedly rightful queen of England Mary Stuart came knocking at the door of Elizabeth.

How did things lead to that conclusion? Mary Queen of Scots movie answers that with a prologue showing the end, as if implying that you are watching a history chapter on a reel, that the supposed event was an event from the past, that it never had a happy ending to begin with.

The Direction of Mary Queen of Scots Movie

All the important things deemed important by Josie are in fact just as much as she had imaged them to be. Rourke does plenty of justice to some of the scenes that share gravitas galore and opens in you a faucet of wrath at the world. You couldn’t help but feel sorry for a brave woman who tried really hard to find her voice in a world steered by the men. Watching her become a victim to helplessness is a sorry sight as Josie manages to evoke in you that sense of brutal tragedy that Mary Stuart might have actually faced.

Saoirse Ronan as Mary Queen of Scots movie

Rourke had a big vision for Elizabeth and Mary’s meeting, and she plays around with it aplenty. She builds everything for it. When the time comes she lets them dance to the music of suspense before letting them actually come face to face. That section feels very poetic. The actual meet which was believed to have happened under the wraps even though remains debatable to date has been magnificently directed.

The cinematography of Mary Queen of Scots movie has been done beautifully as well. Some scenes stay with you, that’s the power it sputters. There was so much story going on that editing must have been a challenge, but it remains thoughtful nevertheless given how much of politics was to be depicted and squeezed under 2 hours 04 minutes of the entire movie run.

Saoirse Ronan as Mary Stuart

Whilst she could have been chosen because of her sheer resemblance to Mary, there is something about Saoirse Ronan that literally dictates her character’s very existence. She is a powerhouse of performance and you find her dancing to the tune of the extremely influential Mary Stuart. She does her ample justice not only with the looks but with her impactful and stirring performance. Her dialogue delivery is next to perfection as she makes Mary Stuart extremely tangible and manages to spring her back alive from the dead.

The ballsy portrayal suits her to the maximum. The whole movie centers around Mary’s character and it goes without saying that it was a wise choice to cast Saoirse because she brings a rare vigour to her portrayal.

Margot Robbie, on the other hand, does a great Elizabeth herself. Given how gorgeous she is in reality, you can’t help but marvel at how brilliant the makeup and hairstyling has been for the Mary Queen of Scots movie, since they give a contrasting image to her personality. The revelation at the end will make you applaud the team because they turn her into something else altogether.

Moments to Watch Out For (Spoilers)

The scenes that stand as the most memorable ones are some of those that evoke pathos by being extremely tragic. For instance, one of the most shocking and shattering bits from Mary Queen of Scots movie would be hands down the killing of David Rizzio (Ismael Cruz Cordova).

The scene is so tragic that it might leave you in tears. It all happens so very quickly that you never see it coming in the first place. The series of frames where you see a helpless Mary trying to fight for David as one by one the King’s council lance him taking his insides out will melt you. It is one of those scenes that will make you feel the powerlessness of being a queen, not being able to protect someone close.

Also, the part where Lord Bothwell (Martin Compston) backstabs Mary is a scene to watch out for. You feel that same helplessness kicking in when he places himself in the vanguard after getting Henry Darnley (Jack Lowden) killed. Her asking for Elizabeth’s aid was inevitable. The built up is solid and eventually, it gets a staggering backing with the clandestine meeting.

It is also worth noticing how love was toyed around with when it came to power and politics. The very definition of it felt dwindling when Elizabeth is willing to offer her love Robert Dudley (Joe Alwyn) to Mary Queen of Scots for the sake of sovereignty. It just goes on to show how paltry a powerful thing like love becomes when its reins come into the hands of a powerful person.

Margot Robbie and Joe Alwyn in Mary Queen of Scots

You can order Mary Queen of Scots from here:

Mary Queen of Scots movie

Issues with the Film

If you turn back the leaflets of history, you know there is something more to it than what was depicted. Something more to the tale that John Guy doesn’t cover. Something more to the story that Josie Rourke fails to register. A two-hour movie could have never done it justice in the first place.

It doesn’t cover everything and it makes your mind wander to the enclave where you see it could have been possible to manifest some real tension if only the direction leveraged the emotions more. What went down with Mary was sickening and you know at once the movie by Josie Rourke needed to be more dramatic than simply theatrical.

In the screenplay sector, you realize the movie could have done better. Given the import and grandeur of the movie, there should have been more profound words to devour. The build-up of protestant supremacy hasn’t been used to the maximum.

I am pretty sure there are other directors out there who are secretly hoping to turn the life of Mary into their very own magnum opus. Till something better shows up, we shall take Josie’s work as something that helps in tacking Mary Queen of Scots’ against a face on the map.

The Final Verdict

Overall Mary Queen of Scots movie was brimming with energy. It doesn’t bore you to death because there is so much content in it and something is always happening or always imminent. It will help you to give a face to your imagination, resuscitate her back to life, so you know that there lived a woman so bold and brave that the world of men crumbled and felt intimidated by her very presence.

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Check out the trailer of Mary Queen of Scots:

Mary Queen of Scots













  • Great Direction
  • Brilliant Story
  • Magnificent Cast
  • Saoirse Ronan as Mary Stuart
  • The Final Meeting


  • Drama should have been more powerful
  • Fails to capture everything
  • Screenplay
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Mary Queen of Scots
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