Review: The Other Boleyn Girl


When I first came across Philippa Gregory's 'The Other Boleyn Girl' on all the bestseller lists I must say I was intrigued. After all, it featured Henry the 8th and a tumultuous time in British history from the human interest perspective as well as the historical perspective.

I was thoroughly disgusted with the book which wasn't so much historical fiction as a means for the author to hash together an unwholesome mix of sensationalism and salaciousness in a poorly written story. Having washed my hands of the book, I wasn't interested in anything to do with it, until they announced the casting of the movie. Having often been brainwashed by Hollywood I thought, Eric Bana, Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson in a movie couldn't be all bad could it?

Unfortunately, it's worse. The script writers took an already salacious book and spiced it up with so much more sex and wholly missed the intrigue that I might have to bite my words and say that Gregory's book is the lesser of the two evils.

If you are not familiar with the book, it tells the story of the Boleyn sisters in King Henry's court. Henry the 8th has suffered a severe disappointment when his wife Katherine of Aragorn fails (yet again) to present him with a male heir to the throne. The Duke of Norfolk, sees in the situation, a way to improve his fortunes alongwith that of his sister's family, the Boleyns. Presenting Mary to the king as his mistress, she provides him with a son and also falls in love with him. Unfortunately by the time her son is born, her jealous sister Ann has managed to draw the King's attention away from her so that the son remains unacknowledged. Henry manages to divorce Katherine and marries Ann, but their problems with having a male child persist, until the King's wandering eye and Ann's unpopularity with the people and in court lead to the end which a person familiar with British history would be all too aware of.

But, let me say that the sequence of events mentioned above, happen in the movie NOT necessarily what is historically known, excepting for the gruesome end. In this version, the courtiers are all pimps and the women of the court all conniving schemers. And, the screenwriters took all that made a little bit of sense out of Gregory's book leaving a convoluted story of a weak, voluptuary king, a harpy whom we are damned if we know why the king is bothered with and a mistress who apparently the king has 'respect', 'trust' and 'love' for after she has been discarded.

And I did think that since it was a period piece, because I knew the loathsomeness of the story beforehand I could atleast entertain myself with the costumes, locations, period detail etc. WRONG! I could go to any carpet upholstery store to look at the what comprised of materials the men were wearing and the women's costumes were uninspired and with the weirdest head-dresses. Yeah I dont think I dig 15th century fashion. Nor their morals.

The leads dont have much to do except look beautiful, the acting as non-existent as the British accents. The casting of the rest, except for Kristin Scott Thomas, is badly done especially the William Stafford character who looks younger than Johansson, and even more clueless.

The end is laughable because the movie states that an action which Henry performs in the movie changed the face of England forever. But, if you missed the nanosecond where this is referenced in the movie and didnt know the importance beforehand, you would be left wondering. And having the gall to add some sort of historical frame of reference to your movie when the entire is made up of insinuation and bad imagination really frustrates me. Atleast have the guts to call it fiction or a poor-excuse-for-making-a-raunchy-costume-drama and be done with it!


Mama - Mia said...

i had heard neither of the book nor the movie!

but i do love reading your bashing! you havent been too lucky with your books and movies recently, have you?

but i am not complaining! it always make a great read from ya!! :D



S said...

:) You love historical romances na????

Am staying away from both of them :)

Reviewing Palace???

couchpapaya said...

abha - u win some, u lose some. and u get some half-decent reviews out of the rest :) thanks for reading all the virulence !!

S - yes these are not ur type at all!! i'm not sure, i havnt collected my thoughts on it yet. once i start to write, i'll know if i can get a review out of it ....

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