The Other Boleyn Girl (Sony/Focus, 2.29.08), based on screenwrirter Peter Morgan‘s adaptation of the historical novel by Philippa Gregory, is about a sort of romantic competition between Anne Boleyn (Natalie Portman) and her older sister Mary (Scarlett Johansson) for the love and allegiance of King Henry VIII (Eric Bana).
We all know which sister lost her head in real life. (Those of us with a high-school education, I mean.) I’m not sure if the film delivers this particular climax, but it will apparently depict a romantic triangle and a hissing sisterly rivalry.
Wikipedia says that while Mary Boleyn was first to “know” Henry, she was actually King Henry’s “short-term lover” during the time that she was married to Sir William Carey (played by Benedict Cumberbatch).
Anne Boleyn, the account says, “resisted [Henry’s] attempts to seduce her and she refused to become his mistress. Eventually she accepted his marriage proposal and yet “she decided not to sleep with Henry before their marriage, as pre-marital intercourse would mean that any children they had would be born out of legitimate wedlock.”
As the trailer makes clear, the film’s problem is not historical accuracy but the ornate hats that Bana is obliged to wear. They seem historically authentic, but they make Bana look a little silly, like he’s playing dress-up in the attic with stuff he’s found in his great-grandmother’s chest. He resembles one of those middle-aged Italian fascists in that drag scene from Pier Paolo Pasolini‘s Salo: The 120 Days of Sodom.