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"The Other Boleyn Girl" Review

The_other_boleyn_girl_photoOh love and power. Individually both have been known to produce some mildly psychotic behavior in those affected but when combined they manifest as some seriously egregious, completely effed up, utterly batshit insane behavior. I am assuming that in real life none of this would have been all that entertaining but since much of this movie requires one to suspend belief for a couple of hours (Henry Tudor did NOT look like Eric Bana) it's ok to have a little glee while watching someone's life unravel due to their own pulling of the proverbial thread. The Other Boleyn Girl is like 115 minutes of Days of Our Lives. Complete with an overbearing father, an impish mother and two sisters who will literally stop at nothing to get what they feel is rightfully theirs.

The film is based on the book of the same name by Philippa Gregory, which I have been meaning to read for years but kept on getting distracted by shiny objects. Unfortunate because the novel is listed as historical fiction then the movie adds in a little drama to kick things up a notch. It's an oft romanticized yet good British tragedy but not necessarily an accurate account of the trials and tribulations of Anne Boleyn's marriage to Henry Tudor so please, I beg of you, do not go gently into that good theater expecting such. Like I said, this isn't compared to the book (also The Tudors is way better) but instead compared to several years of being obsessed with European history (Protestant Reformation, huzzah!) but finding that good ol' fashioned drama and a break from reality just makes things that much better.

From what I understand in the novel the title character - the other Boleyn girl - is Mary Boleyn (Scarlett Johansson) the sister of the infamous Anne Boleyn (Natalie Portman). In the beginning it is established that Anne is the other Boleyn girl after her sister, who is younger, is married off first. Meanwhile King Henry Tudor (Eric Bana) is married to Catherine of Aragon who is unable to produce a male heir which has led to some strife among Henry and his wife as well as stress for the king who decides to find himself a first runner up to Catherine. Someone younger and hotter of course, in hopes that his new, uh...love...will be able to give him the son he desires. King Henry chooses Anne at the urging of her father and uncle because it's the 1530's, using a female to make increase a family's prominence in the English court was de rigueur. Henry meets Anne and her family seems well on their way to go to court when Henry changes his mind (apparently his good looks make up for incessant capriciousness) after meeting Mary and he finds that she is hotter. Henry 'beds' Mary, she gets pregnant but is on bed rest for the duration of her pregnancy so what do the Boleyn men decide to do? They go fetch Anne who the sent away to France and have her become the King's new mistress. Thank God there were two of them. Anne returns to court and the King finds himself smitten even though Mary has given him the son he has always desired. So through some divine miracle Anne gets the King. Mary gets sent away to the country. Anne stays and turns into a raging, manipulative bitch who is made to feel bad for having a daughter (Elizabeth. I'll bet she's going to amount to NOTHING). And well, we all know what happens at the end and I cannot say I wasn't a tad bit thrilled because the behavior that Anne displays for the majority of the movie kind of makes you want to behead her yourself.

Is it the greatest movie ever? No. Is the acting terrific? At first I would have said no but given the amount of anger that coursed through my veins for the duration of this film - Henry must choose between two of the hottest women on the planet and the rampant whoring out of daughters - some of the acting must have been good lest I wouldn't have such disdain towards Anne Boleyn by the end. It's somewhat amusing drama at it's best. Disconcerting and angering at it's worst because one forgets that while it is 1535 on screen it is 2008 in the real world. So the feminist in me wanted to give a hearty eye roll and WTF to several aspects. My favorite WTF being when Thomas and Elizabeth Boleyn are all "Wuh?" as their children's lives are in disarray because they of course had nothing to do with it. The real question though is whether or not I was satisfied and all I have to say is, eh. It was fine, nothing to obsess about but mildly entertaining. But the latter feeling is probably because I am mean and watching someone else suffer is mildly entertaining but for this particular film, feel free hold off on the need for entertainment until you can do so from the comfort of your own living room.

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I agree with the "eh" on the movie. I recommend the book. It's 100 times better.


My plan was to read the book before I went to see the movie and Borders didn't have it in stock. So now I have it, I started reading it and I'm finding that the intrigue in the book is far better. Anne is also a little more compelling. The movie seems to switch a lot of things around and misses huge parts of the book.

Survey says that Philippa Gregory is an excellent historical fiction writer and Peter Morgan has been amazing at adapting screenplays (Last King of Scotland and The Queen are two of his best) but this one left a lot to be desired.

Anyway, thankfully there are DVDs and Showtime.


That is an AWESOME review! I have been feeling so ambivalent about this movie (and also distracted by shiny things enough to not read the book).

I thank you for confirming what I had suspected!


I read the book first and really loved it. I knew going in that the movie wasn't going to be the same, so my expectations were low. Very low. That said, I really enjoyed the movie on its own (not as an adaptation). One of my friends noted that while she's sure the book was better than the movie (she hadn't read it yet), she pointed out that the book didn't have Eric Bana in it. I find that the trade up for hotness is something I can deal with. Don't go to see it for a rousing romp through British history...see it because Eric Bana takes his shirt off.

Other conclusions: We also thought that while no one deserves what Anne got, she gave that man a case of blue balls that surely would go down as cruel and unusual punishment in today's world. And clearly he only found Mary prettier when he noticed she had a rack that Anne could only dream of having.

I think it is a rental, but I'm glad I saw it in the theater because it was a welcome change to all of the explodey goodness I normally pay to see. Plus, some really cool looking outfits...although I'm really hoping that the DVD outtakes show Eric Bana inhaling his puffy sleeve a few times...that had to be dangerous ;)

Heather B.

"We also thought that while no one deserves what Anne got, she gave that man a case of blue balls that surely would go down as cruel and unusual punishment in today's world"

That might be the best thing I've ever read. I wish I had thought of that.

Also I didn't mention the exact reasons for Anne's beheading because I didn't want it to be a spoiler. I'm also assuming that most everyone knows that she dies and that her daughter, Elizabeth does end up amounting to something.

So did Anne deserve what she got? Well based on annoyance factor and that she was such a bitch, I was ready for her to die. Was it sad and unwarranted and based on charges from hearsay? That it was. She really didn't deserve to die but she did deserve punishment.

And finally, the woman who plays Jane Parker is Juno Temple who is also in Atonemment. This woman has perfected the art of being a nosy, self-righteous brat. I wonder where one would get a degree in that.


i majored in literature, and so obviously i have a very over-the-top, like, bordering on nutso, love for all things tudor. and stuart, even!

haven't seen the movie or read the book, though.
hmph. i do plan to! really!

but, for the sake of commenting here, i just want to say that i seriously had to explain, just this week, to a grown man WITH TWO CHILDREN, that when it comes to producing female or male offspring, only the man has any input.
quite literally.

it is 2008, no?

and to think of all of the women in the history of the world who were beheaded (or in some other way shunned or tortured) because THEY couldn't produce sons.


I so love-love-loved this book. I can tell even from the trailers that the movie will not do it justice for me. And I just finished The Boleyn Inheritance and by the end, Henry is such a raving, paranoid megalomaniac that what he did to Anne B. feels tame. I would so recommend these 2 books to anyone. I have a new passion for the Tudors et al.

My take on the book was that Mary never really cared much for Henry. She was his confidante and friend, but she saw him for what he really was, and had no aspirations to the throne. I don't think she so much minded that Anne swept in and took center stage. Though maybe I'm remembering it with a slant given the way the book ended. Henry and Anne were the Sid & Nancy of their times - they deserved each other.

I"ll rent the movie, but I'm not much of a theater goer anyway (people are so rude in theaters now, I am distracted by my own rage).


"My favorite WTF being when Thomas and Elizabeth Boleyn are all "Wuh?" as their children's lives are in disarray because they of course had nothing to do with it."

So what you're saying is that the Mom and Pop Boleyn were the original Spears? ;)

Heather B.

Well yes. I would suppose. That is if Britney and Jamie-Lynn end up executed for crimes committed due to their parents need to have a controlling hand in the Britiish empire.

Seriously, yo, Kristin Scott Thomas (Elizabeth Boleyn) spends the entire movie telling her daughter to do as their father says. And then she starts to feel remorse when things end up fucked up to hell.

I am getting way too into this and it keeps pissing me off but if my children were about to be executed or my daughter attempted to have sex with my son; then I would step in, you know? Perhaps find a good psychiatrist.


Saw the movie this weekend and read the book awhile ago. I thought Mary, in the book at least, had a daughter. The betrayal doesn't seem as big of a deal then because it's not as though a girl would be seen as an heir to the throne.

I second the recommendation to read "The Boleyn Inheritance". I just finished it this morning and WOW that was so so good.

Also, and I can't believe no one has mentioned this, Anne in the movie never puts her head on the block. She just kneels. WTF?! That would be a logistics nightmare. The body would go forward at the impact of the sword, potentially resulting in not-death-blow. And for certain, the body wouldn't fall backwards as it did in the movie.


there's a lot I could say about the "facts" in both the novel and the sensationalist movie, but I'd rather not shit all over something that could be entertaining to a lot of people, so I'll shut up. After the following. :-)

One thing about the beheading, in response to the above comment: Anne actually was beheaded by a swordsman while kneeling rather having to put her head on the block. As the Lady Marquess of Pembroke she was afforded the honor of dying with dignity. Little comfort, I'm sure, but at least that part is true.

Okay, I'm done being an asshole now, and sorry about that piece of "know-it-all" info that I'm sure isn't welcome, but as a scholar specializing in the Tudors I had to say something before I exploded. I think I'll go eat some Girl Scout cookies now.

Heather B.

The beheading comments, comparisons and historical accuracy (or lack therof) are great. So I do not mind them all. And as a European History junkie (though I'm more into the Habsburgs and the Bourbons) I find myself more and more intrigued by The Tudors. This film makes you feel compelled to find out more especially since in some circles Anne is seen as a feminist heroine.

Let's just say the film and showtime series are both for entertainment purposes only. Henry Tudor did NOT look like Eric Bana or Jonathan Rhys Meyers so I doubt anyone would ever want him to remove his shirt.


From your description, it does sound like the movie diverges quite a bit from the book--and the book had PLENTY of drama to go around (in addition to being a little bit of a bodice-ripper at moments :). That's what I love about reading P. Gregory--you feel like it's educational cuz it's historical fiction, but it's just trashy enough to be satisfying. I will give the movie a try, but will go in prepared to be let down.


I have to say that Henry wasn't a bad looking guy in his prime. Everyone always remembers him as a big fat grotesque guy but that was actually later on. You can see a picture here: http://historymedren.about.com/od/picturegalleries/ig/The-Tudor-Dynasty/06youngh8.htm

As for the movie, I was disappointed. I enjoyed the book so much more.


Henry was very much older than anne and marry.
he was sick so that's why all of his wives were difficult to keep the childs.

natalie is the bad choice of being anne boleyn. she looks very much different from anna's portrait. anne had deep sucken small eyes and long face. the better choice should be annelise hesme ( french actress from alexander), jean marie coffey, liv tyler or Ines satre are the way better than natalie portman which I don't find she has got the traditional english woman in old time's face and character.


Also Queen elizabeth I has got strawberry blonde hair just like her father, slender small shape ( as we seen in her portrait), sucken small eyes and long thin lips. how come?? the prodcuer takes natalie who isn't even look like western european woman, acting anne boleyn. however, I like natalie and she is beautiful little woman but she looks like southern european woman, like spanish or greece women. for me I find natalie has her look in the same tone like penelope cruz.

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