Directed by: Trevor Nunn
Starring: Helena Bonham Carter, Cary Elwes, John Wood, Michael Horden, Sara Kestelman, Patrick Stewart
This is the kind of well-produced Masterpiece Theatre-styled historical drama that suits a certain kind of audience—of which I am not a member. It’s the sort of historical movie where you understand too well Alfred Hitcock’s distaste for period pictures because he could never imagine anyone in them going to the bathroom. Yes, it has solid production values, nice costuming and a cast stuffed with about 50 percent of all the members of Actors Equity. The film purports to tell the story of the doomed Lady Jane Grey (Helena Bonham Carter), who, in the confused period following the death of Henry VIII, ruled England for a whopping nine days—and the 142-minute running time seems about half as long as her reign—before being beheaded. In reality, what the film turns out to be is a very specious story of the romance between her and her arranged husband. (Written by someone who had apparently seen the Zeffirelli Romeo and Juliet.) The latter love interest is played by Cary Elwes, who here answers the unasked question of just what an historical drama starring Justin Bieber might look like. There’s a good deal of simplified court intrigue and an attempt at presenting Jane’s “intellectual” rejection of transubstantiation. The film is, in fact, so impressed by her junior-high-school level of reasoning that we get her spiel twice. You may get more out of the movie than I did, if this kind of film appeals to you.
The Hendersonville Film Society will show Lady Jane at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 6, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community (behind Epic Cinemas), 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville.
In Brief: A solidly produced, (mostly) impressively cast and very long historical drama in the Masterpiece Theatre mold about the nine-day rule of England by the ill-starred Lady Jane Grey—with a very thick coating of balderdash romance to make it more palatable. It will appeal to those who like this sort of thing and it is very nice to look at, but as either drama or history, it’s on the shallow side.