The Other Boleyn Girl (PG-13)

Drama 114 February 29, 2008
By Chuck Wilson
The Duke of Norfolk, obsessed with gaining the favor of King Henry VIII (Eric Bana), plans to have his niece Anne Boleyn (Natalie Portman) become Henry’s mistress and bear him a son--something that Henry’s current wife, Katherine of Aragon (Ana Torrent), has failed to do. But when Anne overplays her hand and offends the king, the resourceful duke throws her younger sister Mary (Scarlett Johansson) into his path. Though initially resistant, Mary soon melts before the king’s charms--which is understandable, since this Henry VIII has better abs than the portly Henry of yore. Alas, in the royal palaces of the 16th century, love is as fleeting as it is in Hollywood today: In a flash, Mary is out of the king’s bed and Anne is in. Like the 2001 Philippa Gregory novel on which it’s based, this sumptuous film plays fast and loose with chronology and incident, telling us that Anne Boleyn wanted so badly to be queen that she withheld sex from Henry until he got a divorce from Katherine. Seemingly driven mad with desire, Henry demands that the Pope annul his longstanding marriage--a request that Rome refuses to grant, leading Henry to break forever with the Catholic Church. And thus is born the Church of England. The movies sure beat school.
Justin Chadwick Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Eric Bana, Benedict Cumberbatch, Christopher Fosh Philippa Gregory, Peter Morgan Alison Owen Sony Pictures/Columbia

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