Friday, April 25, 2008

ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE

ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE
Cate Blanchett, Clive Owen, Geoffrey Rush, Abbie Cornish, Samantha Morton, Rhys Ifans


"Woman. Warrior. Queen."




9 years later after the first Elizabeth film with the same actors (Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush) and the same director (Shekhar Kapur), I am still trying to categorize this film. One welcome added attraction was the presence of Clive Owen as Sir Walter Raleigh. He registers well on screen (as always) and delivers his dialogue with clear eloquence. Yet we don't really get an in depth development of his character. He is portrayed as a pirate whose charms beguile the Virgin Queen. Yet he is unworthy of her since he doesn't have royal lineage nor would the alliance contribute to the well being of England. How tragic, ha!

The plot was scattered because it ambitiously tried to sneak in several events to make it more historically accurate. A film filled with several (too many, I'd say) intriguing side plots, authentic dialogue depicting the era, some flirtatious romantic connections, garish costumes, interesting characters and throw in some war scenes set in the high seas - it all contributes to a pleasant visual feast.

Having said all that, I felt somehow indifferent towards this film. I got the impression I didn't gain much knowledge about the true nature of the Virgin Queen. It basically progressed along on the same premise as the previous movie - An assassination plot against the Queen, her search for a suitable consort, the continuing threat from her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots and an unworthy love interest (Sir Walter Raleigh). Since it had the phrase "The Golden Age" in the title, I assumed they would showcase the events during that period. It was only towards the end of the film when they mentioned that after she had vanquished the numerous threats to her reign that England experience a period of lasting peace under her rule. If I remember correctly the first film ended on that same note. So I am still trying to figure out if this film was a remake, a rehash or a sequel to the previous film.

The main and only draw would be the flawless performance of Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth. Her ability to express the different emotions of the persona behind the monarch and the monarch itself was inspiring to watch. Given that she had some tendency to overact and was prone to hysterics, it was still a convincing portrayal of a fascinating character. It was a good mature role for Cate Blanchett, a great actress who can reinvent herself through different roles. You see her as the character not as an actress merely acting our her part.

I conclude by saying that I expected a lot more from this film. But nevertheless I recognize and I was entertained even for a few hours by the sheer effort the filmmakers and the whole cast put into making this ambitious movie.

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