Courtesy of Focus Features Saoirse Ronan plays Mary Stuart, Queen Elizabeth's cousin, in "Mary Queen of Scots."

Movies & More reviewer John Gillispie shares his thoughts on "Mary Queen of Scots," which is rated R and available on DVD.

Showing off her acting talents in "Mary Queen of Scots," Saoirse Ronan gives an incredibly powerful performance as the title character.

Margot Robbie also gives a good performance in her supporting role as Queen Elizabeth I. Robbie follows in the footsteps of some impressive stars who have played the Virgin Queen on the big screen - Bette Davis, Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench, to name three.

Ronan's Mary returns to Scotland after the death of her French husband. As a Stuart, Mary believes she has a legitimate claim to both the Scottish throne and the one in England occupied by her cousin Elizabeth I.

This film shows all the intrigue and plotting by the men surrounding these two powerful historical women. (Fans of "Downton Abbey" will want to watch for Brendan Coyle as the Earl of Lennox. Coyle played the valet Bates on "Downton Abbey.")

Mary is also shown to be able to use manipulation to benefit herself. When Mary produces an heir, she writes to Elizabeth to ask her to be the child's godmother. In the film, this offer seems to sit well with Elizabeth, who makes the decision to remain unwed and without a child of her own. The movie appears to show an Elizabeth who seems unsure of herself, but grows in confidence as she ages.

The scene where Mary and Elizabeth meet is interesting, and Elizabeth appears to try to keep Mary from seeing her face at first. Mary has come to Elizabeth to seek her help, but she does not further her cause by speaking to Elizabeth as though she is superior to her.

My biggest quibble with this film is the quick way in which the movie handles the time in which Mary is held in England. Otherwise, "Mary Queen of Scots" impressed me with the regal performances of its two stars.

John Gillispie is the public relations director for the Huntington Museum of Art.


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