(Dir. Justin Chadwick) (2008)
Anne Boleyn died on 19th May, 1536, in the Tower of London. We remember her and her lost head, and refer you to our account of a visit to Henry’s and her happy home at Hampton Court. We also recall this film (adapted from Philippa Gregory’s novel) about her, her younger sister Mary, and King Henry VIII. A Reformation Days of Our Lives, the inevitable expository dialogue, hey nonny nonny nonsense and sumptuous set pieces cloy early, and while the acting is earnest and worthy, these are historical manikins. Historians generally agree that Mary was not the simpering, innocent rose portrayed here by Ms Johansson. And who cast Eric Bana as the King? He neither looks nor, methinks, acts, like the savage old bugger. Meanwhile Mark Rylance, an old English version of Tevye, is intent upon marrying off his daughters to advantage – he needs to get out of Hampton Court and onto another film set! Ms Portman, as Anne, at least shows the foot-stamping, feisty high principle that ‘won’ the King, and lost her her head. “These gifts will go as quickly as they came!” But Anne had the last laugh in a sense – her daughter grew up and survived the perilous times to become one of the very greatest of the English Monarchs.