Henry VIII and his illicit relationships with the Boleyn sisters is explored in this sexy and dangerous tale, based on the best selling historical novel.
The King, played by handsome, square-jawed Eric Bana, goes to the Boleyn country house to view the comely and flirty Anne (Natalie Portman). He's looking for a women to give him a son because his Queen has been unable to provide him with a male heir.
Anne's conniving father and uncle have arranged the meeting, as they see the potential coupling as very beneficial to the entire family. They see land and titles flying their way. However, Anne's willfulness ends up embarrassing the King, and luckily for the Boleyns, he turns his attention to her sister, shy, sweet and oh yeah, newly married Mary (Sacarlett Johansson).
Henry moves Mary and her family to the castle so she can become closer to him. He summons her to his quarters nightly until she is pregnant.
Anne, not one to be slighted, uses her female wiles to seduce the King by keeping him at arm's length. Of course, Mary is helpless to break up the budding romance, because she is confined to bed during her pregnancy.
All of this deception goes on under the Queen's nose, and she wasn't going to sit by quietly. Henry's obsession with Anne ultimately turns his people and his Church against him.
Written by Peter Morgan (The Queen and The Last King Of Scotland), the story has the makings of a great nighttime soap. Even with all the intrigue of the turmoil between the characters, the acting stands out.
There's a majestic feel to the sets without looking overly opulent. The usual trappings of period films, such as elaborate hairdos, splashy balls and magnificent sets, are downplayed here, which allows the acting to shine through.
Bana makes a bold and commanding King and Johanssen's pale hair and skin play up her vulnerability, But, it's Portman who surprises with her cunning and sensuality that drive the story.