jolien 🥀’s review published on Letterboxd :
So... the performances are miles better than the script for sure. Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie, I love you dearly. Saoirse is an excellent, fierce Mary and I don't necessarily agree with people saying Margot's Elizabeth seemed weak. I though she brought a different, more sensitive side to Elizabeth that we don't see enough of in other media centered around her. Jack Lowden and Joe Alwyn: also very good, sirs.
Something that bothered me though: I couldn't shake the feeling that they were making Elizabeth into some kind of broken, empty woman for not having a husband and/or children. I'm almost certain this wasn't the intention but it still seeped through by their heavy-handed juxtapositions. As if Mary still 'won' somehow just for choosing motherhood, despite, you know, making human mistakes and getting beheaded for it. Cause she might be dead but at least she didn't live a childless life, you know? And yes it's Mary's film essentially so they want the audience to root for her, but I'm kinda tired of this narrative that tells us Elizabeth should be pitied. This film makes interesting comments on the difficulties women in power had to deal with, especially in the 16th century, but it also seems to tell you their marital and maternal status are reflections of their womanhood. Especially the line 'I am more man than woman now' left a bad taste in my mouth, implying that Elizabeth rejecting marriage, motherhood and being a levelheaded ruler made her somehow only partly female.
Anways, this was quite unfocused? Elizabeth and Robert Dudley were cute in this and should have gotten more screentime. The John Knox plot was never touched upon that much? It really went from rushing some important parts to then dragging out other parts as well. Just kind of going through the motions without really letting the audience get inside these women's heads and hearts.