The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)

Genre(s): Biographical / Drama
Sony || PG13 - 115 minutes - $28.96 || June 10, 2008
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2008-06-03

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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.

.:: A U D I O ::.

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Director: Justin Chadwick
Writer(s): Philippa Gregory (novel); Peter Morgan (screenplay)
Cast: Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Eric Bana, Kristin Scott Thomas, Mark Rylance, David Morrissey

Theatrical Release Date: February 28, 2008

Supplemental Material:
  • Director's Commentary
  • Deleted/Extended Scenes
  • Members of the Court: Character Biographies
  • To Be a Lady
  • Translating History to Screen
  • Camera Tests

Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (1.85)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.


I'm Henery the Eighth, I am!
Henery the Eighth I am! I am!
I got married to the widow next door,
She's been married seven times before.
Every one was an Henery
She wouldn't have a Willie or a Sam
I'm her eighth old man named Henery
Henery the Eighth I am.

The life and times of Henry VIII has been explored time and again with several serous feature films and even a series devoted to him, ďThe TudorsĒ where he is played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers. In fact, The Other Boleyn Girl already was made as a TV movie (in 2003) starring Natasha McElhone, Jodhi May and Jared Harris. Combined with all the other stories on Henry Tudor plus any one of the Jane Austen adapted movies, what reason could there be for this version? Actually, technically, this one isnít that bad. The acting is alright, set and costume designs top of the line and the story is at the very least intriguing, but for some reason I just wasnít feeling it when all the elements were put together.

The Other Boleyn Girl is about Anne and Mary Boleyn (Portman and Johansson respectively) and their scandalous relationship with King Henry VIII (Bana). With their father wanting desperately for the family to be taken care of financially, and with the help of the sistersí uncle, Thomas Howard (Morrissey), they hatch a plan to curry favor with the King who is frustrated that his wife cannot bear children, as he is in need of a son to be heir to the throne.

In all honesty, I could care less about what is or is not accurate about this account of the Boleyn Sisters and King Henry VIII, I go into most movies for the shear entertainment value (drama, comedy or otherwise) so how precise the story has not shaded my thoughts on the film itself. My issue with The Other Boleyn Girl is it isnít that interesting. Add to that, you have several unscrupulous characters you can only hate with one, Mary Boleyn, you kind of feel sorry for, but she hardly counter balances with the likes of the King, Anne, Thomas Boleyn or Thomas Howard. Whether or not this is correct for the times, I just couldnít like any of them, therefore I also had a hard time even getting into the film and caring what happens to them.

On the technical front, the picture looks great. Production designer John Paul Kelly, art director David Allday (Amazing Grace, Elizabeth: The Golden Age) and 2-time Academy Award winning costume designer Sandy Powell (Shakespeare in Love, The Aviator) are all outstanding in their departments. Even if the story fails, the film looks fantastic with top of the line and rich costumes as well as set pieces that look authentic.

The cast are quite good, all things considered. Natalie Portmanís performance was fine, though I never understood why the King would be so enchanted with her. Yeah, sheís beautiful, but a woman he would cast away his wife and break from the Catholic Church for? Not hardly. Like I said, Portman herself is fine but I think she was miscast in the part. Scarlet Johansson too gives a nice little performance but again, I donít think she was right for the role. Her character is timid and naive but I never felt anything underneath the surface with her or even Eric Bana as Henry VIII.

Bana is a capable actor yet with so many interpretations of the King, I never quite understood him either. Is he misunderstood? Is he hungry for power and/or wealth? Perhaps, but even so, itís only a one-note part for a character that shouldíve been much grander than how he was portrayed here.

And I believe that is the problem with the movie. It never scratches the surface with any of these characters and as an alternative relies on a story that doesnít quite work overall. As I stated, the production design is excellent, maybe even Award worthy, yet without a solid foundation, itís pointless.

No doubt director Justin Chadwick is an ambitious fellow taking on a subject done before and trying something new, but despite a talented group of actors; The Other Boleyn isnít the great masterpiece it could have been. Itís also fairly obvious with Columbia dumping this in February (I wouldnít call this a romantic movie) that they too realize what they had: a film that certainly looked great but was far short on story and character.


Directorís Commentary Ė Justin Chadwickís commentary is very informative from how it was to film in HD to doing research on the historical aspects. Heís an interesting person and has a lot to say about his feature debut project.

Deleted/Extended Scenes (22:56) Ė 11 scenes are included along with an alternate ending. First, most of the regular scenes were just extensions of what was already in the film. Some of these were actually good, but only on their own. I believe putting them back in wouldnít have added anything to the quality. The alternate ending is basically the same only with different subtitles at the end (explaining what happened to these characters).

Members of the Court: Character Biographies (16:11) examines several of the main characters with scholars and experts of that time period. Each is fairly short (only a couple minutes each) but you get to know a little about them.

Last, three featurettes round thingís out: To Be a Lady (10:33) takes a look at what it was like for women back in the 16th century and the role they played with the families and in the Royal Court. Translating History to Screen (10:05) has interviews with most involved including novelist Philippa Gregory as they explain taking the source and putting it on the big screen. Finally, Camera Tests (2:15) are simple shots done by Chadwick testing filming on a different camera early on in the development.



The Other Boleyn Girl is presented in anamorphic widescreen with a 1.85 OAR. It looks great and given the historical aspects, it wouldíve been easy for Chadwick to go with a wide, more sweeping look but instead gets close and intimate with the story and characters. Colors are very good with nice goldish tones inside the Court while some cool blues at times outside.

The DVD offers solid Dolby Digital 5.1 audio (also available in French and Spanish). Itís not fantastic and some dialogue tends to be a tad too quiet, and so while it wonít wow you or anything, itís still a good track.


The Other Boleyn Girl is a fantastic looking film with rich set pieces and wardrobe, and even with a miscast Natalie Portman, the performances arenít that bad either, but the story has much to be desired. Itís not a mess per se, it just didnít have much of an appeal for me. With so many projects having been done about King Henry VIII, with a TV version already been done on this subject, the only thing this film does is take an abridged story and put in recognizable (non-British, I might add) actors.