Spittin’ cousins, queens at cross purposes. The willful, emotional, ultimately unlucky Mary Queen of Scots (Saoirse Ronan) vs. the coolly reasoned Queen Elizabeth (Margot Robbie) in the mid to late 1500s. Things don’t quite work out for Mary, but then you knew that. The Focus Features release opens on 12.4.

Yesterday I passed along praise for Ronan’s performance (“incredible, really gets to shine, a full range of emotions”). The flame-haired Robbie looks like a fright. (Cue junket-whore questions about how upsetting it was for the beautiful Robbie to ugly up for the sake of art.) The clips are handsome in a carefully-balanced, steady-as-she-goes, class-A fashion. The exquisite lighting is the work of dp John Mathiesen, a longtime Ridley Scott collaborator.

Directed by Josie Rourke, the trailer seeks to persuade that the film is primarily focused on character and conviction rather than blood and spectacle. The fact that Beau Willimon (House of Cards) wrote the screenplay suggests this. And yet the word around the campfire is that the Game of Thrones aesthetic was also an influence.

Mary Queen of Scots is based upon John Guy‘s “My Heart is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots.”

From an Amazon-posted review: “Bit by bit [Guy] chips away at the conventional depiction of a monarch governed by emotion rather than reason (a characterization that suited Mary’s detractors who later would slanderously charge her with adultery). It was also a convenient shorthand for scholars — Elizabeth = reason vs. Mary = emotion.

“But Guy shows how Mary used charm, religious tolerance and a combination of both carrot and stick to consolidate her position despite the best efforts of Elizabeth’s minister William Cecil, a handful of obstreperous Lords and the ever-misogynistic, anti-Catholic John Knox (David Tennant). It was, for five years, no small feat and speaks well of Mary’s acumen and flexibility.”