This movie is a weird one and, as someone who loves and researches Anne Boleyn, also a hard one to review. This is obviously an adaption of Philippa Gregory’s bestselling novel The Other Boleyn Girl and is, in my opinion, the better of the two adaptions. Now don’t get me wrong, the 2008 version of The Other Boleyn Girl is also good in many ways, but there are a few reasons why this one could be superior.
The 2003 version of The Other Boleyn girl is a low budget movie, yet how simple it is almost makes it feel more authentic than the newer one. It starts off with Mary Boleyn catching the King’s eye, yet she doesn’t want to be with him as she is happily married to William Carey. She also thinks that sleeping with the King as well as her husband is a sin. Though we know that Mary probably didn’t think like this, as it was very likely that she had already been the King of France’s mistress, for now I will just compare it to the book and the 2008 version. Soon Mary falls in love with Henry VIII and falls pregnant with Henry Carey. In this version, Mary gives birth to Henry (who is the child of Henry VIII) and then Catherine (William Carey’s daughter). The 2008 version didn’t mention Catherine at all whereas this has changed the order of the children. One of the few accuracies in the book is that Catherine was born first and then Henry Carey. This hasn’t been proven completely yet it is very likely that this was the case in real life. Anne Boleyn then catches Henry’s eye and we know where it goes from here.
I said earlier on my Facebook page that I think of The Other Boleyn Girl book as a ‘what if’ book, same for the movies. Perhaps they are set in a parallel universe? They are like fiction to me and, even though it annoys me when Philippa Gregory presents them as fact, you have to ignore the inaccuracies. You wouldn’t go looking for inaccuracies in a normal romantic movie would you? As a movie version of a book this one follows it really well. The 2008 version does deviate from the story quite a lot, with Henry raping Anne and not even mentioning Catherine Carey.
I did like both actresses that played Mary Boleyn in both versions. The Mary in this version does seem quite old though, which is weird as it is based on a book where Mary is supposed to be the younger sister. I am not a fan of either of the portrayals of Anne; Natalie in the 2008 version is to spiteful and serious, whereas Jodhi in this version is too silly and childish. I feel that both are one dimensional, which the real Anne certainly wasn’t.
The camera techniques were a little off putting at the start, it looked like somebody’s old home videos. A lot of it was handheld and didn’t stay still, but luckily it wasn’t as bad later on. Strangely, at certain parts Mary and Anne would talk to the camera separately in a small room. It felt almost like watching a video diary.
Despite the camera techniques and the portrayal of Anne, I actually did enjoy it. If you are one that cannot look at it as a work of fiction and cannot look past inaccuracies, then this isn’t for you. However, if you like seeing different interpretations of Anne or just want to watch a good movie, then try it. Though if you are going to buy it, I would suggest buying The Six Wives of Henry VIII series (1970 with Keith Michell) as it is an amazing series and also comes with this version of The Other Boleyn Girl on it as an extra.
My edit of The Other Boleyn Girl movie.