|Reviewed by: Frank|
Elizabeth is bold and beautiful.
In November 1558, Elizabeth (Cate Blanchette) was proclaimed Queen of England following the death of her half sister Queen (bloody) Mary (Kathy Burke). Her first year was as tentative as most first year leaders, however she quickly learned how to count votes, winning by five in her first key issue, after she locked up six who would have voted against her. She used her hand maidens sexual skills to learn secrets and carried out assassinations as skillfully as Michael Corleone to clear the court of her enemies. Known as the virgin queen, she gave up her virginity early on to Lord Robert Dudley (Joseph Fiennes), but remained unmarried through her forty years of rule.
This story of her first year of survival in the volatile English Monarchy showcases a women who learned quickly how to use power and maintain her strength in office. Her years are known as a golden age in English history.
Geoffrey Rush plays Francis Walsingham a dark figure who over time becomes her most capable and trusted ally and Richard Attenborough is the initial advisor who's advice she rejects, particularly when it comes to marriage.
Filmed with an epic sense, first time director Shekhar Kapur uses narrow shots effectively giving a far grander scope to scenes than what is visible on the screen. Light and darkness are his major tools, suggesting the Pope (John Gielgud) resides in a dark ominous space which is condemned by dark sinister music. On the other hand periodically as Elizabeth emerges to take power the screen is filled with blinding white light in contrast to the dark dungeons and banquet halls.
Elizabeth is a delightful study of power, and the strength of a woman who wasn't about to live in a man's world, particularly under his rules.
It is rated (R) for brief nudity and violence.