Lets me be honest, I hate period pieces. It’s not like they are poorly made but because they are unbelievably bombastic. They always have these costumes that look pretty but look they were not practical even by 15th century standards. The films are always longer than the average battle on “Dragon Ball Z” and everyone has so much make up on that they look like the band Kiss or Boy George.
So I was skeptical about watching a movie based on the early years of Queen Elizabeth. But instead of watching the melodramatic fashion show based on a Jane Austen novel, I see three people get scalped and burned at the stake, because they were Protestant. Holy shit “Lord of the Rings” was not this hardcore. What makes this film even more surprising is that after this execution, it never holds back. As soon as execution ends, Elizabeth sent to The Tower to be interrogated, Bloody Mary dies, Liz becomes queen and now everyone hates her, even the Vatican and they are suppose to keepers of the peace. Joking aside, Elizabeth was caught between a rock and hard place as soon as she becomes Queen. She fights her way around the ruckus with her wit and with the help of her advisor Francis Walsingham (played by a terrifying Geoffrey Rush). In the end she wins back her people but sacrifices her innocence, which is a catalyst for the Virgin Queen persona.
The highlight of this film is definitely the acting and the characters. Not a single character feels irrelevant to the plot. It helps that each actor, including minor actors, are acting like it’s the last performance of their life. Daniel Craig plays John Ballard like he was James Bond’s ancestor. Joseph Fiennes somehow manages to give a man-whore some actual complexity. But the best performance is without a doubt Cate Blanchett as The Virgin Queen. It’s not because Cate plays Elizabeth well, it’s because she is Elizabeth. She finds the innocence and humor of a character that has yet to become a legend, and when she does, it’s probably the only time in movie history that a reincarnation feels tragic.
“Elizabeth” is a great film because disobeys rules of it owns genre to tell a thrilling story. If you are a fan of “Lord of the Rings” then this feature might surprise you. If on the other hand you prefer to watch “Becoming Jane” you should probably wait 3 years. 5 angry priests outta 5.