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The Other Boleyn Girl

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
The Other Boleyn Girl Movie Poster Image
Lush historical drama is engrossing but mature.
  • PG-13
  • 2008
  • 114 minutes
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 14 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Men and women commit adultery, scheme to get power, and trade sexual favors. Family members betray each other, people are killed (often for muddled reasons). That said, there appears to be a strong bond between the two sisters, and there's an underlying message of forgiveness.


Loud fights between couples (a woman slaps a man, for example), verbal confrontations, two beheadings (the actual act isn't shown, but in one scene, a bird's-eye view from far above shows a head next to a body), and a rape scene (not graphic, but the act is clearly implied).


A couple is shown passionately kissing while presumably naked (the shot is close-up, so breasts and genitals aren't visible); a wife beds down with her husband while both are wearing nightgowns; a brother and sister discuss being physically intimate with each other; lots of talk of taking a mistress.


Nothing really stronger than "whore," though the insults are biting.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some drinking at festivities.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this historical romance/drama deals with mature themes like adultery, betrayal, and even incest. Still, there's a balance here: Characters who appear to value material comforts and power get their comeuppance, while those who display humility and conduct themselves with an inner compass appear to be spared. Although there are a number of implied sex acts and much discussion of adultery, surprisingly little is actually shown.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 2 year old Written bygerbowski March 9, 2013

Skip this one, see the Tudors instead

This movie was disappointing overall, despite having some very talented actors involved. The biggest problem stemmed from the fact that movies can only be a ce... Continue reading
Adult Written bywittywhit April 9, 2008

Inaccurate but still worth watching

After I watched the movie I had to know everything about Henry VIII and everyone before and after his reign or related to his life. I have to say the movie is... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written by30Morgause04 August 2, 2014

Watch it!

The Other Boleyn Girl is a period drama centred around the Boleyn sisters. It contains an attempted incest but the incest doesn't go through. Henry VIII ra... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byUgli Chic April 19, 2010

perty darn good

This movie was very well done, great actors, and everything. But I would caution parents not to let any kids under age 13-14 see it, very graphic in detail and... Continue reading

What's the story?

Based on the best-selling novel by Philippa Gregory, THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL is a not-so-faithful retelling of how the rivalry between sisters Anne (Natalie Portman) and Mary Boleyn (Scarlett Johansson) changed the course of history. Encouraged by her ambitious uncle and eager-to-please father, Anne accepts her mission to become King Henry VIII's (Eric Bana) mistress and bear him a son -- a feat that has escaped the reigning queen. Instead, the monarch falls for Anne's sister, Mary; soon, Anne is relegated to second-fiddle status. But when Mary falls out of Henry's favor, Anne again takes on her seductive task. And time away from the king has made her a shrewd girl: Thirsting for revenge, she flirts with Henry but withholds sex -- driving him mad with desire -- and demands that he annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon and make her his queen. (She's a Rules girl playing a high-stakes game.) His acquiescence means excommunication from the Catholic Church, which causes a huge uproar. And if Anne can't provide the promised male heir, it may well cost her her life.

Is it any good?

A lushly photographed, beautifully costumed feast for the eyes, The Other Boleyn Girl reveals the machinations of power-hungry men and women in the Tudor court. (It's a popular subject; Showtime has dedicated an entire TV series to it.). The cast is superb, the set design exact. Still, history buffs are bound to wince at the liberties the film takes with the facts, as well as how it speeds through huge swaths of time (the first half-hour feels particularly herky-jerky). And though screenwriter Peter Morgan's script bears the mark of a true professional -- he also wrote Helen Mirren's The Queen -- the dialogue is burdened in spots by too much explication.

But despite its flaws, the film resonates, thanks to its stars. Johansson one-ups her performance in Girl with a Pearl Earring, which proved she had a face for period pieces, and turns in a surprisingly nuanced performance. And Portman proves she's not just a good girl by attacking her villainess role in earnest; she's conniving, manipulative, and dedicated to ambition at any cost. But in the end, she's all too human, especially when her happiness is denied just as easily as the king's is indulged.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the accuracy of movies based on actual events. Do you think most historical movies are true to what actually happened? How can you find out? If a film does fudge the historical facts, how do you feel about that as a viewer? In general, is history a good source of inspiration? Families can also discuss the relationship between Anne and Mary. Why did two seemingly close sisters drift apart? Are they depicted as caricatures -- one bad, one good -- or are they fully formed characters?

Movie details

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