Monday, October 10, 2011

Elizabeth: The Golden Age

By s. Monday, October 10, 2011 , , , , , , ,
(114 min, 2007)
Director: Shekhar Kapur
Writers: William Nicholson, Michael Hirst
Stars: Cate Blanchett, Clive Owen and Geoffrey Rush

It's not love that conquers all. It's strength.

(spoilers ahead)

Nine years before „Elizabeth – Golden Age' premiered people all over the world got to see 'Elizabeth' and they all fell in love in Cate Blanchett – fair, porcelain, redhead with such force in her and so much acting talent everyone were knocked off their feet. Because Blanchett is, in fact, so interesting, she can carry a film all by her own. She can even make it a very good film, solely because of her performance. But one thing I cannot stand is when the movie has story, has characters and has brilliant actors. But what it doesn't have is soul.

The first part of the movie dealt with how Elizabeth became a queen, as a young girl, in love with someone who she cannot marry for political reasons, dealing with religious conflict her father and her sister (Bloody Mary – when will we get a decent movie about her?) provoked. The second part shows us mature Elizabeth with even bigger problems – despite two story arcs similar to first part, Elizabeth has to deal with great Spanish Armada and assassination plot that ends up in difficult decision to sentence to death royal blood, Mary Stuart.

Cate Blanchett is asked to do many things here. She is asked to portray a woman, who was one of the greatest rulers in the the history of the word, asking a simple pirate to kiss her. She is asked to portray her as jealous and vain. I was disgusted by some of the scenes, but not by Blanchett, nor by the character but how poorly the writers showed it and handled it. There is neither consistency here, nor respect for characters. Blanchett is too good for the movie and her performance, even in such poor circumstances is so powerful and similar yet in many subtle details different from her work In 'Elizabeth'. She has amazing moments – the speech she gives to her troops before the battle and when she shows how wonderfully temperamental Elizabeth really was - “I, too, can command the wind, sir! I have a hurricane in me that will strip Spain bare when you dare to try me!”. Not to mention the murder attempt where the shooter is staning in front of her with a gun and she just stands her in all her might and glory. I was surprised he actually took a shot, I don't think many people would.

What stuns me is that he story structure ad character development is poor but the dialogues are beautiful, there are so many memorable lines from the movie but my favorite is without any doubt “We mortals have many weaknesses; we feel too much, hurt too much or too soon we die, but we do have the chance of love.” spoken by Clive Owen.

He plays sir Walter Raleigh, pirate who comes back from settling Virginia colony in New World. He is the reason for many passionate looks and heated discussions, given how he makes both Elizabeth and the lady of her court, Bess (Abbie Cornish about whom we will surely hear more in the future, she has fantastic roles in her resume including “Candy” with late Heath Ledger and “Bright Star” for which she nearly got Oscar nomination this year). The characters of Walter and especially Bess are rather one dimensional, that is Walter would be completely uninteresting in this movie, had he been played by anyone else but Clive Owen. That man is amazing. No matter how dull his part is, how terrible the movie and how stupid the script are, he conquers. I truly think he is the most passionate actor working nowadays – he always seems so driven, so filled with emotions and anger. Everyone remembers his terrific work in “Closer” but he managed to make “Shoot'em up” worthy of my time. That's a real achievement. He brings so much color to the film and he has very interesting kind of chemistry with Blanchett. They portray restraint and respect beautifully.
Impressive cast includes Geoffrey Rush who reprises his fantastic role of sir Francis Walsingham, Elizabeth's right hand, Samantha Morton as Mary Stuart, who is at the very least memorable, Tom Hollander from “In the Loop” and Pirates of the Caribbean films and Rhys Ifans in a role that reminded me of what Daniel Craig did in first film.
The movie is strikingly beautiful – the cinematography is enchanting, the costumes won Academy Award and the music is fantastic. The movie reminded me in style of “The Other Boleyn Girl”. It's a good thing that after the time of terribly done historic movies like “King Arthur”, “Troy” or – for the love of God - “Alexander” we at least received good looking productions with shots so beautiful, they look as if taken from some meticulously painted picture.

The movie is not even close to being as good as “Elizabeth” but it is decent and truly....every film that has Cate Blanchett in it is worth watching.

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