An often astonishingly dull endeavor, Mary: Queen of Scots, which details the rivalry between Saoirse Ronan’s Mary Stuart and Margot Robbie Queen Elizabeth I, comes off as a hopelessly generic period piece that’s been adorned with bland visuals and unconvincing performances – as filmmaker Josie Rourke, making a jaw-droppingly inept debut here, exacerbates there hands-off vibe by delivering a momentum-free narrative that lurches from one tedious, egregiously talky sequence to the next. The almost total lack of compelling elements ensures that there’s never a point at which the viewer is even remotely invested in any of this, while the various performers prove utterly unable to infuse their broad characters with anything resembling humanity or subtlety. The disastrously stagy atmosphere is compounded by a screenplay that generally emphasizes nonsensical, uninteresting encounters, and it’s worth noting, too, that scripter Beau Willimon does a horrible job of establishing the movie’s myriad of one-dimensional figures (ie the film ends and the motivation of certain characters remains a total mystery). The third-act meeting between Ronan and Robbie’s respective protagonists is, perhaps predictably, unbelievably anticlimactic and entirely emblematic of everything that’s wrong with Mary: Queen of Scots, which ultimately does confirm the film’s place as an epically misguided disaster that doesn’t even remotely justify its existence.
no stars out of ****