TIFF13 Review: MARY Queen of Scots
Occasionally, a film so affecting comes along that even a wordsmith like myself can only manage to babble out a few descriptors in lieu of an actual, full sentence. Stunning! Poetic! Mesmerizing! Perfect! Now, an attempt at a real sentence: Swiss filmmaker Thomas Imbach‘s MARY Queen of Scots achieves a remarkable feat — that of harnessing the full range and power of the medium in which it is made.
The cinema has always been, at bottom, a shadow-play of light and a careful cacophony of accompanying sound. Imbach tells the centuries-old story of the child monarch of Scotland, France, and England in a markedly contemporary manner while simultaneously retaining the brutal archaism of the 16th century’s bloody battles, staid gender roles, and religious zealotry. Camille Rutherford, as our eponymous protagonist, is nothing short of hypnotic. Her sheer screen presence and very subtle performance are an absolute treat.
Imbach’s camera traces the foggy and isolated landscapes of a constantly (and very violently) contested medieval geography with perfection; grey skies match grey waters, and a lone chunk of earth supports a grey castle. MARY Queen of Scots’ central themes are teased out slowly and perversely: Mary is obsessed with both a potential friendly sisterhood and a political rivaly with her cousin, Elizabeth I, whom she never actually meets, only writing unsent letters until finally, Elizabeth’s army imprisons the slowly-maddening Mary in a tower before her eventual beheading.
No spoiler alerts here – the story isn’t front-page news. But this movie is definitely rush worthy.
Screening Times for MARY Queen of Scots
Monday September 9 Scotiabank 2 7:00 PM
Wednesday September 11 TIFF Bell Lightbox 1 9:00 AM
Saturday September 14 TIFF Bell Lightbox 1 9:30 PM
A Gallery of Images from MARY Queen of Scots
Watch the MARY Queen of Scots Trailer
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