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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Positive messages include the idea that women leaders shouldn't be underestimated and that leaders need to put their people's well-being first. Also shows the various ways that sexism has worked even against queens.
Positive Role Models
Mary and Elizabeth feel devoted to their kingdoms and countries, wanting to do what's best as leaders. Mary is kind to her court and understanding of their differences. Both women are surrounded by men who in some ways want to use and manipulate them.
Violence & Scariness
In one harrowing scene, a wrongly accused man is stabbed to death by multiple nobles. Rape scene. Two fairly big battles; people fight with swords, and some die. A man is about to kill someone, but Mary stops him. A character is shown in the moments leading up to her execution via beheading.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
An unmarried couple embraces and kisses. A suitor performs implied oral sex (his head is under her skirts) on a woman; the camera focuses on her face. A married couple consummates their marriage. A man commits adultery; he's caught half-dressed in bed with his lover. A character's nipples are visible through a wet shirt. Mary describes to her ladies-in-waiting how she was never fully "with" her first husband and looks forward to real passion. Nonsexual shot of period blood.
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"Bastard," "whore," "damn," "fornicator," "adulterer," "sodomite."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink at various events, a couple to excess.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Mary Queen of Scots is a period drama about Mary Stuart (Saoirse Ronan), who returned to Scotland to rule after she was widowed at age 18. The movie reportedly contains some historical inaccuracies, but the broad strokes are based in truth and follow the tumultuous relationship between Mary and her "cousin queen" Elizabeth I (Margot Robbie). Expect violent battle scenes (people fight with swords; some die), as well as an execution, a harrowing assassination via stabbing, and a rape scene. On the sex/romance front, there's kissing, implied oral sex, lovers caught in bed half-dressed, and other sex talk; a character's nipples are visible through a wet shirt. Language is mostly along the lines of "bastard" and "whore," and characters sometimes drink too much. With its feminist themes, this costume drama explores the "what ifs" of a world in which the two queens could have ruled as friends, rather than as foes controlled by the ruthless men in their courts. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Director Josie Rourke's debut feature benefits from feminist themes, laudable performances by Ronan and Robbie, and beautiful production design, but the film is also long -- and feels it. Rourke is the artistic director of Britain's prestigious Donmar Warehouse theater, and it's easy to see the influence of the stage in Mary Queen of Scots. The movie feels Shakespearean at times, with its court intrigue, romantic dalliances, and impassioned monologues. And Ronan, one of the most versatile and gifted actresses of her generation, is well-cast and surrounded by talented supporting actors.
But good performances alone don't make a movie great. There's not much humor here, and the pacing can be so uneven that it crosses the line between contemplative into just plain slow. The big scene in the third act when the two queens finally face off is well-intentioned in its artistry, but it takes a while to get to the payoff: a heated exchange between Mary and Elizabeth, both of whom seem to wish they weren't beholden to the powerful men in their inner circles. This encounter supposedly didn't take place in real life, but it's the one scene audiences will be waiting for, so it's hard to fault Rourke for including it, imagined or no. While Mary Queen of Scots isn't nearly as memorable as The Favourite, as costume dramas go, it's worth seeing for the leading performances.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.