There's nothing like a well-made Eurocentric costume drama to make me get my gay on. I'm not sure what the connection is, but when it works, I'm putty in the hands of whomever happens to be closest to me. The Other Boleyn Girl far exceeded my expectations and I enjoyed it immensely. I'm a sucker for these flicks when they're done well: Elizabeth, Girl With a Pearl Earring, Wuthering Heights, Sense and Sensibility, Shakespeare In Love...I could go on and on, but won't. Let's just get down to it, shall we?
Natalie Portman was actually fantastic in this flick. I sat through the execrable Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones for the sake of my young nephew, and was not impressed with her turn as Princess Abadalamaba, or whatever. When I rented Closer, I could tell she had talent, but at times she appeared to be in over her head in that one: while her stripping scene with Clive Owen was genius, the scenes where she cried and played sad were pretty bad. I sort of chalk it up to her just not having the life experience to play the role. But in this flick she's totally on the mark. She is a bona-fide adult actress (albeit a young one) and I think she'll probably be around for quite a while. Kudos to Natalie!
Scarlett Johansson does her wounded naif routine to great effect, but there are no surprises in her performance. It's a great performance, but we've already seen it. But look at that fabulous dress! This film is full of them!
Speaking of dresses, as you might have guessed, another fabulous element of the film is the costumes. And the set design. OH MY GOD, it's like, almost too much. Many scenes were staged like paintings and it was just a feast for the eyes. Add in all the drama going on and it's a regular festival of juicy high stakes political/sexual intrigue. BTW, Kristin Scott Thomas (above) deserves a mention as the wisened mother of the Boleyn girls, who must sit back and watch the train wreck of what was once her family, powerless to stop it because her idiot husband is the boss. Oh yes, there's also quite the feminist angle in this movie. I think it's another reason I love it so much, as a gay man, because you get to see how the "powerless" women had to maneuver and manipulate things to get what they wanted, and how it didn't always work out the way they intended, and that sometimes the consequences were hella high.
Overall, it's a great rental. The extras are good, if you're into that stuff. There are a couple of documentaries that are interesting, one about the making of and one about the position of women in the Tudor era, both interesting. The Extras are generous and fairly interesting. The film itself, while not exactly packing the dramatic punch of Elizabeth, still delivers on its own merits and is well worth the time to watch it. A job very well done by all involved!