9 out of 10


Elizabethan Political Thriller

Could you, (as a teenage girl)... talk your way out of jail and a certain death sentence, take over a Third World banana republic that`s just a superpower`s puppet and then...unite it after 200 years of almost constant civil war, win it`s independence, defeat the largest amphibious invasion in history with an army that`s dissolved itself because it hasn`t been paid in year, a navy with 100 year old technology that`s so small its an international joke and a treasury that`s so broke it makes Brazil`s credit rating look Treble A by comparison, whilst surviving almost daily assassination attempts and repeated attempts at coup d`états by religous fanatics? Take this to any Hollywood Director as a script and he`d laugh in your face, yet this is not fiction, but fact. For this film traces the early years of England`s Queen Elizabeth the First who turned England who went from political prisoner in a country little more than a puppet state of the Spanish Empire under Queen Mary into a nation that would one day span the globe.

Kate Blanchett in the title role is one of an outstanding set of performances in a truly blunt, shocking and startling portrail of history that makes the most outrageous of soap operas look tame by comparison. One really feels such sympathy for this intelligent and honest girl as she is forced to act out of charcter in a struggle to survive with almsot her entire cabinet plotting her downfall. As the French mass in Scotland on the border to invade, England barely has a regiment left operational and the Marshall of England (commander-in-chief) is a shifty turncoat she can`t trust anyway. Instead, Elizabeth has to rely on a double agent to liquidate the Soct`s bimbo Queen, who`s currently sleeping with Elizabeth`s own finacee. The King of Spain personally poisoned her sister and is busy trying to bribe Elizabeth`s lover. There`s an imminent coup d`état afoot and Elizabeth dispatches a crack team of what would be now known as "commandos" to kidnap one of the leaders as he`s having a crap on the toilet. Her closest advisor is trying to pursuade her to mary her worst enemy`s transvestite brother who spends his entire time organising orgies amongst his servants. Meanwhile, the country`s completely run out of money, the Bishops are telling everyone in the land that she`s a bastard and even the Pope`s sent in an undercover hitman to build an underground resistance movement and who starts personally liquidating her few loyal supporters. Can she trust no-one?...The only one she thinks she can, sleeps with underage boys. And that is about 5% of the plot!

This is a truly amazing costume drama set in the breathtaking beauty of England`s architectural heritage. Even though the film is badly marred by a couple of scenes where the cameraman had a slight case of the shakes and by needless subtitles that could have been done better by a Grade 3 schoolboy, the film was so overpowering that even by the close of the end credits, almost all the audience were seated in a form of aftershock.

Utterly gripping thriller, 1000 times better than Scream"

Film Critic: Robert L Thompsett