7/10 Although this kind of film usually isn’t something that gets me excited to go to the theater, I thought I would give this film a chance due to its two Academy Award nominations for Best Makeup & Hairstyling and Best Costume Design. On the technical side of things, this film is very well made. Its nominations are well deserved, the production design is well done and the acting is fantastic across the board with the real stand out being Saoirse Ronan, whom continues her streak of incredible acting performances. Margot Robbie (whom in the end looks like a dead ringer for Helena Bonham Carter in “Alice in Wonderland” as the Red Queen) does a solid job too but it is Ronan whom has the best material and more screen time and she doesn’t waste a second of it. I wish we got to see more of them on screen together in the film. First time director Josie Rourke shows potential and although the film isn’t flawless, for this being a director’s first film, she is a talent to keep an eye out for. One thing about her direction that impressed me the most was her use of music. This is the second film in a row I have seen (after “Never Look Away”) that is scored by the excellent Max Richter and although his score is better in “Never Look Away”, that is because it is more prevalent. What impressed me about Rourke’s use of his score is that she didn’t overload the film with his music but instead knew when to utilize silence and let the dialogue be the central focus of the scene. Often directors fear silence and have to shove either a song or the score into every scene but a talented director knows how to use silence effectively and Rourke does so in this film. When the score is used however, it is very well done. The story is rather interesting and since I didn’t know too much about the historical background, I did not know where the story was going to go. My couple complaints would be that the very opening scene is basically a gigantic spoiler for the end of the film and served no purpose but to eliminate suspense for later. Films often start at the very end, flash back to the beginning and then work their way back to the ending but here it does a great disservice to the film. Also, since this film mainly focuses on the behind the scenes political back and forth between our two female leads, having some action would have benefited the film. There is a battle scene but it is extremely weak and over too quickly so there was a missed opportunity to break up the dialogue with some action. All in all, the interesting story, great technical aspects, performances and solid effort from a first time director makes this a film worth recommending but not one to lose your head over.
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