In Rainbows

I’ll try and tap out this update as I listen to Radiohead’s amazing new album. If I suddenly start typing out lyrics, I apologize.

The first two reviews for The Other Boleyn Girl have hit and it sounds like My Blueberry Nights all over again. A flawed film with Natalie’s performance amongst the few highlights.

Thankfully, even the most suffocating of yellows cannot undo the radiance of Ms. Portman who is, by far, the best part of this trashy, flawed yet entrancing spectacle. As Anne, the eldest daughter of Sir Thomas Boleyn, Portman creates a young woman at once starved for affection yet fierce enough to grapple for it. Her Anne is out of her own control: a reckless and feral young lady in the film’s opening salvo (involving a hunt gone awry, curiously left on the cutting room floor) and a conniving yet vulnerable Queen during the madcap final third.

Portman delivers some of her best work here: her Anne is put through the wringer, from drastic shifts of character to emotionally devastating reversals and each blow lands believably. Her journey through the film is fascinating to behold and Portman keeps us on the edge of our seats, wondering what she will be capable of and whether we’ll still care for her by film’s close.

All these flaws aside, I really did enjoy myself. There’s a lot to admire here: the gorgeous costumes, the strong performances, some moments of undeniable power and emotional punch, particularly in the film’s third act, which goes from dark to pitch black with the flip of a switch and got my pulse pounding. I did care for these characters. I wished them better lives than their actions delivered them.

But this is the problem with The Other Boleyn Girl: it sacrifices scope and context for emotional bloodletting though one cannot survive without the other. If the film’s ambitions were able to reconcile themselves with its intimate focus, it might have emerged as something glorious, worthy of our admiration. Make no mistake: by credits close you will have been entertained, moved even. But I doubt that you will feel its pulse in the coming weeks, dwell on what you moved through. The Other Boleyn Girl is half a great movie; as its protagonists know, half of anything will never be enough. All in all, an okay start to 2008: proof that fine film acting is alive and well–storytelling not always so. Recommended for fans of Natalie Portman, the book, and trashy fun in a soap opera vein. For films that really linger — you might look elsewhere.

Portman probably gives the strongest performance in the film, though she rarely makes you understand why Anne does the things she does, other than the fact that because this is history and this is how it happened… maybe. Neither girl is great with the British accent, though Portman holds on to hers more often than Johansson.

You can read the full reviews here and here.

Finally, we’ve added some more photos to the USC gallery. Thanks to Becassine.