Film Highlight: The Other Boleyn Girl

courtesy of Sony Pictures

area theaters, starts Friday

Obsessed with gaining the profitable favor of King Henry VIII (Eric Bana), the Duke of Norfolk came up with a plan to have niece Anne (Natalie Portman) become Henry's mistress and give him the son—and heir—that his wife, Katherine of Aragon (Ana Torrent) had not. After Anne overplayed her hand and offended the king, the duke threw her younger sister Mary (Scarlett Johansson) in his path, and though initially resistant, she quickly melted before Henry's charms, which is understandable since the Henry VIII of The Other Boleyn Girl has better abs than the portly Henry of yore. Alas, in the royal palaces of the 16th century, love was as fleeting as it is in today's Hollywood. In a flash, Mary is out of the king's bed and Anne is in. Like its literary source, this sumptuous film adaptation of Philippa Gregory's 2001 novel plays fast and loose with chronology and incident, telling us that Anne Boleyn wanted so badly to be queen that she withheld sex from Henry until he got a divorce from Katherine. Seemingly driven mad with desire, the king demanded that the pope annul his longstanding marriage, a request Rome refused, which led Henry to forever break from the Catholic Church. Thus was born the Church of England. The movies sure beat school.

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