Elizabeth (1998) / Drama

MPAA Rated: R for violence and sexuality
Running Time: 124 min.

Cast: Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Joseph Fiennes, Richard Attenborough
Director: Shekhar Kapur
Screenplay: Michelle Hirst

Review published April 13, 1999

The historical drama of how Elizabeth I (Blanchett, An Ideal Husband) ascended to her throne. A Protestant bastard daughter in a religiously divided England is in line to succeed the ailing Mary Tudor (Kathy Burke, Anita and Me). Death threats abound by the devout Catholics who will do anything to keep a Protestant woman from taking power. Elizabeth has a rocky go at the rulership, as many factions and other competing countries want her dead for political reasons, and she finds it increasingly hard to know who to trust.

Not the stuffy costume drama I was expecting, playing more like a stylish and suspenseful political intrigue than your typical Academy Award-type fare. That's not to say the acting, costumes and sets aren't good; they are outstanding. Top-notch actors and superb direction by Indian director Kapur (The Four Feathers, New York I Love You).

Cate Blanchett is the real highlight here, and was probably robbed of her Oscar by Gwyneth Paltrow for Shakespeare in Love. Ah well. It's a compelling story that will keep you interested despite Elizabeth's well-known and oft told history. I wonder if Elizabeth II will be the sequel?

-- Followed by Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007) and Elizabeth: The Dark Age (2015)

Qwipster's rating:

1999 Vince Leo