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Movie Review: The Other Boleyn Girl

Alternate Title: The Scarlet B

Story: How can they make such a disappointing film when in possession of some of history's best material to base their film upon? The oft told story of Henry VIII and his relationship with Ann Boleyn, whose marriage changed England forever, is the meat of this tale. Yet what we are left with is a jumbled, disjointed, poorly scripted, uncomfortable, costumed period piece.

The film was directed by newcomer Justin Chadwick and written by Peter Morgan whose previous films were knockouts (The Queen and The last King of Scotland). It is based on the juicy, historically questionable novel by Philippa Gregory. I am in the middle of reading the book and it is deliciously harlequin and melodramatic.

That said, if you are a big Henry VIII and Tudor fan like me, there are some things to sink your teeth into here. There's lush costumes, court intrigue, incest, beheadings, adultery, treason and charges of incest. If you can get beyond the annoying camera work that has us watching a majority of the scenes in a peek-a-boo fashion (behind curtains, doors, through grillwork, forests and blurry windows) there are things to enjoy in a Tudor kind of way.

The last scene has us looking at a very young Elizabeth, who was the offspring of Ann and Henry. She grows up and becomes the amazing Queen Elizabeth and is the meat of two much better recent films starring Cate Blanchett.

Acting: Natalie Portman (Anne Boleyn) is shrill and most likely would be diagnosed as bi-polar in today's world. Scarlett Johansson (Mary Boleyn) plays the 'good' sister and simply does her look, earnest staring routine that we have seen before. Eric Bana (Henry VIII) is a fine actor and I would think he would leave this film off of his resume. Kristin Scott Thomas, Mark Rylance, David Morrissey, Jim Sturgess and Ana Torrent do the best and worst with what they have to say.

Predilection: I am a Tudor groupie and am looking forward to the new season of The Tudors on Showtime starting on March 30, 2008. Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays a terrific King Henry.

Critters: Beautiful horses, palace and hunting dogs and sheep.

Food: He was a King. Food was plentiful.

Sex Spectrum: 'G' rated sex scenes - mostly close ups of kissing.

Blatant Product Placement: This does nothing for the continuation of today's Monarchy.

Soundtrack: Soaring and filled with violins.

Opening Titles: The three Boleyn children romping in a golden field as their father plans their future with subtle white type superimposed over the field.

Visual Art: The King had good taste.

Theater Audience: A handful of Henry the VIII groupies like me.

Weather: The weather was surprisingly good for England.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: I squirmed at the revisionist history.

Drift Factor: I started to look at my watch after 45 minutes.

Predictability Level: High if you have ever seen any of the films produced on this topic.

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: No

Big Screen or Rental: Neither - unless you are a Henry the VIII groupie. Ann's life has been adapted in different media including novels, plays, songs, operas, TV and film. Some of the more recent one are Anne of the Thousand Days, The Other Boleyn Girl, The Tudors, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, and Doomed Queen Anne. For more films on the whole Tudor clan go to this website: http://tudorhistory.org/movies/

Length: Two pain in the neck hours