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United Kingdom 1985
Directed by
Trevor Nunn
142 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Lady Jane

This historical romance tells the story of 16 year-old Lady Jane Grey, daughter of Henry VII, who for 9 days was Queen of England until political expediency sent her to the chopping block.

A fascinating period in English history because of the prominence of two other women, Mary, Queen of Scots and the eventual victor of these bloody battles of succession, Elizabeth I, the events have been filmed in many variants both for television and in feature films (Jane Grey's story being filmed in 1936 by Gainsbrough as Tudor Rose, with Nova Pilbeam as the unfortunate royal). Trevor Nunn's version seems to go quite away towards Hollywood romanticisation with Lady Jane (played sweetly by a very young Helena Bonham-Carter looking like a cross between Frida Kahlo and Christina Ricci)  as a saintly pawn in the hand of her dastardly elders. Her good-looking young husband, (Cary Elwes) at first a rogue, gets converted to her dewy-eyed idealism, the depiction of post-adolescent romance making one suspect a-historical stylistics at work.

Verily the production values are high with superbly re-created settings, both interior and exterior and lavish costumery, but between these impressive aspects and the tragic romance angle the complicated mechanics of the period's history tend to be glossed over, making one wonders who would be satisfied with the rather selective result - too little for some, too much for others.




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