The Queen's Game disappoints despite the Alicia Vikander-Jude Law duo (review)

The Queen's Game disappoints despite the Alicia Vikander-Jude Law duo (review)

The life of Catherine Parr, last wife of the terrifying Henry VIII. Behind the story of female empowerment, a rather academic costume film.

The Brazilian Karim Aïnouz, celebrated in particular for his fabulous melodrama The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao (2019), a change of scenery and gear with this prestigious project, shot in English, with stars in the credits (Alicia Vikander, Jude Law) and selection in competition at the Cannes Film Festival. But what made his cinema unique dissolves into an all-purpose film, more formatted than truly carried by an author's vision.

Adapted from a bestseller by Elizabeth Fremantle, The Queen's Game paints the portrait of Catherine Parr, sixth and last wife of Henry VIII, a sovereign with the reputation of an English Bluebeard who had the habit of beheading his wives. Parr is an enlightened queen, seduced by Protestantism. This attraction to modernity will make her appear like a heretic and put her existence in danger… Aïnouz sees the relationship between Parr and her monstrous husband as a drama about domestic violence, on the edge of the horrifying closed doors. But his celebration ofempowerment feminine, which places a very contemporary point of view on the period, is basically quite banal, and ends up drawing the contours of a new academicism.

Jude Law is responsible for putting on the show as a king dying of a nasty leg infection, filthy and libidinous, stinking and vociferous, confirming with this very entertaining performance the farcical turn his film is taking, after his role of Captain Hook in the last Peter Pan. But even this amusing histrionic performance, in the end, ends up seeming mechanical.

By Karim Aïnouz. With Alicia Vikander, Jude Law, Eddie Marsan… Duration 2 hours. Released March 27, 2024

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