Today I saw Elizabeth: The Golden Age, starring Cate Blanchett and Clive Owen.
When I saw the first Elizabeth during Oscar® season of 1998, I remember being blown away by its intensity and glory. This time, I remained impressed by the acting and the cinematography, but the pace left me bored throughout.
The story of how the famous virgin Queen, played pitch-perfectly yet again by Blanchett, comes to form an attraction to Sir Walter Raleigh (Owen, who is equally fantastic) is the core of the narrative and undoubtedly spawns the most exciting scenes in the film. The two lead actors couldn't be more electric in one another's presence and watching their cat-and-mouse game is nothing short of tension-filled—in a good way.
The problem is, there's a whole lot of traditional 'period piece' yammering that happens in between all of the juice that has you begging for them to get on with it.
Sure, there are bright spots found in the wicked Mary Stuart, played convincingly by Samantha Morton, and also the delicate affair between Raleigh and the other Elizabeth, portrayed by an especially voluptuous Abbie Cornish. But overall it felt like we were jumping from bit to bit with only hints of excitement at each pit stop.
The singular saving grace (aside from the excellent performances) would be the scenery. The film is shot beautifully, from the long elegant hallways and candle-filled rooms inside the castle to the stormy golden-age sea, boasting magnificent ships on the majestic waters.
What was missing was the emotional presence of the first, which truly showed us how this leader was ruled by and ruled with her fragile heart.