First question: Is this movie true to history? Answer: Well, no. Second question: Does it work as a film? Answer: Yes, especially if you can forgive it playing fast and loose with the facts. It’s director Shekhar Kapur’s sequel to the 1998 Elizabeth and again stars the splendid Cate Blanchett in the title role. In 1585 Spain declares war on England, where the ageing Elizabeth is being urged by Francis Walsingham (Geoffrey Rush) to marry and thwart the ambitions of Mary, Queen of Scots (Samantha Morton). Elizabeth, however, is having it away with Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen), which came as news to me. Henceforth, we are plunged into murky Papist plots, with Eddie Redmayne assigned to assassinate the queen, the Spanish king planning to grab the English throne for his daughter and, naturally, Francis Drake defeating the Spanish Armada. Historically it’s a mess but thrilling and absorbing nevertheless, and Blanchett was deservedly rewarded with an Oscar nomination as best actress.
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