The Good: Costumes? Effects.
The Bad: Pacing, Acting, Storytelling.
The Basics: Shockingly dull and nowhere near as visually impressive as in the trailers, Elizabeth is one historic disappointment.
First of all, I enjoy a good historical drama. I look at historical dramas and I try to take them for what they are; fictions set in a past era. I tend to enjoy films that effectively put the viewer in a completely different time or place. That said, I did not find much to enjoy about Elizabeth.
Elizabeth tells the story of Queen Elizabeth I's rise to power as a Protestant ruler in Bloody Mary's shadow. Kept alive by Queen Mary, who soon bites the dust from her brain tumor, Elizabeth inherits a country torn by religious and political differences. While Elizabeth personally courts Robert Dudley, Sir Francis Walsingham professionally aids her in ridding the court of spies and attempting to get England powerful without having to ally itself to either Spain or France. And, of course, knowing what we do about history, she does. Lucky her.
The problem is, the film is dreadfully dull. I can't put it in any nicer terms than that. The pace is slow, the film direction is ponderous and the characters spend a great deal of time on screen sitting still.
I'm ignoring the historical inaccuracies, because, as I said, I take historical fiction as historical fiction.
But what killed the film for me was the acting. Joseph Fiennes looks and sounds the same as he did in Shakespeare In Love (reviewed here!). He's presenting no new side of his personality, he's not making Dudley any different from the character we saw in the other period piece. Heck, he didn't shave differently either!
The biggest disappointment in terms of acting was the namesake, Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth. There is no vibrancy to her performance, there is not a single line that she makes come alive through her acting. As a perfect example, in a critical scene wherein Elizabeth is attempting to convince the House of Lordes to vote her way on a proposition, she is being clever and ironic. Blanchett's performance is too reserved to play the irony out, though. Instead of being reserved or superior or even funny with her tongue in cheek barbs and verbal dodges, Blanchett makes Elizabeth stuffy. And it doesn't work.
In fact, the only acting worth mentioning in the film is Geoffrey Rush as Walsingham. He plays the adviser with a great mixture of reservation and tact. He makes the character feel like someone we might meet in the political arena.
The costumes are fine and there's a nice motif of color versus darkness contrasting Elizabeth's wardrobe with Mary's.
But one weak motif cannot change the fact that Elizabeth is two hours of weak acting, attempts at period intrigue and a great deal of boredom set in the sixteenth century.
For other works with Christopher Eccleston, be sure to visit my reviews of:
G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra
Heroes - Season 1
28 Days Later . . .
For other movie reviews, please be sure to visit my index page by clicking here!
© 2011, 2002 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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