Mary Queen of Scots is a film that scores high on production values, like cinematography, costumes, makeup, scenery, etc.
The story it tells is an interesting view of the 16th-century events it presents. But it might have been a lot better if the details of the plot were more cohesive and more inclusive of the world outside the royal courts of the day. Much of the film is cinematic invention, made to display the events of the history more movie-like.
Mary Stuart (Saoirse Ronan) returns from France where she lived most of her life.
She is the widowed wife of the king of France. She is also the daughter of an English King and she now expects to claim the throne of England. Mary moves to and takes the position of queen of Scotland.
That position is already occupied by Queen Elizabeth (Margot Robbie), who includes Scotland in her realm. The two women are cousins, related by their royal forebears. Mary refers to Elizabeth as her sister.
The fundamental difference between the two countries is the dominant religion in each. Elizabeth and England are protestant, while Mary and Scotland are catholic. There seems to be no chance of reconciling those differences and it could lead to war between the two states.
Elizabeth is unmarried and has no intention of changing that, although she has a lover in her court.
Mary takes a lover in her court, marries him, has a child — a boy she names James. Meanwhile she learns that her husband, a heavy drinker, is homosexual.
His father, the Earl of Lennox (Brendan Coyle) is determined to have his son replace Mary as the sovereign leader of Scotland.
The vast court of England, under Elizabeth, and the court of Scotland under Mary, are all men.
Both groups are generally unhappy with Mary and plots to destroy her are rampant throughout the story. And eventually successful.
The basic events of this historic period are known and have been screened several times. Elizabeth, with the compliance of the conspiring side men around her manage to have Mary imprisoned and ultimately dethroned.
Near that time, Mary is in an isolated domicile, with only her personal servants around her. In a scene that is fictional, Elizabeth comes to visit her. That never happened; they never met face to face.
The performances in Mary Queen of Scots are all good, especially Saoirse Ronan representing Mary.
She is the main character in the film and is portrayed as the smarter and more reasonable of the two queens.
Margot Robbie sacrifices her beauty to the image of the queen, Elizabeth, who was not a beauty in most of her life.
Mary Queen of Scots is at Harkins Sedona 6 theater.