And that other other Boleyn girl wasn’t too shabby, either

Carly at the Movies column by Carl Larsen

the-other-boleyn-girl.jpgThere is absolutely no historical evidence that Henry VIII was also known as “Henry the Horny,” but he was obviously a mite impatient when it came to personal relationships. He had six wives and enough affairs to fill a moderately-sized hamlet’s phone book.

Well, you can’t really blame him. In real life, none of his wives were anywhere near as good-looking as Scarlett Johansson or Natalie Portman in “The Other Boleyn Girl.” In fact, the famous one, Anne (who lost her head, then lost her head) was reported to have an interesting collection of warts, moles and perhaps even a goiter at various places on her face and bod. And Heaven knows what her older sis, Mary (portrayed by Scarlett), looked like.

The movie critics were overwhelmingly unkind to this somewhat banal bodice buster, but I was in the mood for historical hanky-panky, and thoroughly enjoyed the film, even though the murky cinematography was annoying.

Portman plays Anne, who turned out to be the second of Henry’s six wives (and the mother of Queen Elizabeth the First), and throughout the film has an on-again, off-again cat fight with Johansson, undoubtedly irked that Henry had bedded and babied sister Mary first.

The big guy himself is played by Eric Bana, who has now evolved from the Incredible Hulk to the Insatiable Hank. He’s adequate and sufficiently lustful, but he’s no Charles Laughton.

(Let us pause to note that, if you’ve never seen Charles Laughton’s portrayal of this fabled king, by all means get hold of the DVD of 1933’s “The Private Life of Henry VIII.” It’s absolutely wonderful.)

Nothing like a couple hours of costumed court intrigue on a grey spring afternoon, topped off with a famed beheading or two. And while Portman’s Anne seemed a bit shallow and peevish (compared, at any rate, to Natalie Dormer’s portrayal in “The Tudors,” which returns to Showtime later this month), she’s fun to watch, even though wart-free.

History buffs will be tsk-tsking throughout, as the Hollywood Rule holds forth throughout: never let the facts get in the way of a good story. But the supporting cast constantly plugs the leaks with outstanding performances.

Kristin Scott Thomas plays the Boleyn girls’ mom with a no-nonsense morality and emerges as probably the only character in the film with a shred of decency. Jim Sturges and David Morrissey are spectacularly greedy as the daddy and uncle Boleyns consumed by ambition, and Ana Torrent lends much sympathy to the role of Katherine of Aragon, Henry’s very first wife.

So, do we recommend “The Other Boleyn Girl?” For those of us who enjoy a good costume-drama romp, full of hot and haughty royalty – by all means. But if you’re a history stickler or looking for The Big Meaning in Things, well, not so much.

If you were a fan of last season’s “The Tudors,” and are anxiously awaiting the series’ return, “The Other Boleyn Girl” serves as a nice refresher before plunging into this year’s pit of purple passion.

Might as well enjoy it guilt-free, gang. Holy cow, it’s just the movies!

Carl Larsen is a regular contributor to The Augusta Free Press. Look for his At the Movies column on Mondays.

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