Sunday, March 02, 2008

Elizabeth: The Golden Age

Year: 2007
Director: Shekhar Kapur
Cast: Cate Blanchett, Clive Owen, Geoffrey Rush, Abbie Cornish, Samantha Morton

In order to prepare myself for this film, I rented the video to Elizabeth, the prequel. I found the prequel a little boring, to be honest. But Elizabeth: The Golden Age is much more interesting.

Set in 1585, this film chronicles the story of Queen Elizabeth, as she rules England while the country is divided between her Protestant supporters and the Roman Catholics who despise her. Her faithful advisor, Sir Francis Walsingham warns her of the dangers from the latter group, but she intends to win them over by earning their love.

Meanwhile, Spain, the most powerful Roman Catholic country in Europe, has started a holy war. Its ruler, Philip II, plans to invade England and remove Elizabeth from her throne. He secretly hatches an assassination plot with Elizabeth's cousin, Mary, Queen Of Scots, who is in prison, and plans to place Mary as Queen.

Elizabeth is advised by Walsingham to find a suitor, but none of the available choices please her. She then meets Sir Walter Raleigh, a sailor who has returned from the new world, bearing gifts and tales of his adventures. Elizabeth is no doubt attracted to him, and gives him plenty of attention. She cannot commit to him however, due to her position, so she sends her favourite lady-in-waiting, Bess to be his companion. Bess and Raleigh fall for each other, thereby making his friendship with the queen more complicated. But Elizabeth has no time to spare for her heart, as Philip's armada closes in on England.

Shekhar Kapur once again takes the helm for the sequel to his previous film, and he does a good job of putting the queen at the center of attention, and depicting her as a force to be reckoned with, yet vulnerable at the same time. Cate Blanchett deserves all the accolades she gets for portraying the monarch, as she brings all of Elizabeth's characteristics, be it strength, weakness, bravado and sincerity to the fore. Clive Owen is equally good, bringing a tremendous amount of charm to Walter Raleigh, and making him an equal alongside the queen. Geoffrey Rush doesn't have much to do this time around, but makes his presence felt nonetheless.

The costumes for this film, particularly for Elizabeth, are the best part of the whole experience. It truly deserves the Oscar it earned for costume design. However, the film suffers from a lack of a proper climax, and not much to show for other than Blanchett & Owen's fine performances. Maybe I'm not so into period dramas like these, I never have been. But I do love Cate Blanchett, and she rarely disappoints me.

A nice film to spend 2 hours with, just don't expect too much from it. (3.5/5)

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