“The Queen’s Gambit” / FirebrandMovie Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

On June 13, the historical drama “The Queen’s Gambit” starring Alicia Vikander and Jude Law began rolling out in cinemas. The plot of the film is based on the debut novel by English writer Elizabeth Freemantle, “The Queen’s Gambit,” which appeared on bookstore shelves in 2013. In the review below we tell you what kind of passions raged in the palace of King Henry VIII and whether they are worth the viewer’s attention.

Pros:

superb acting by Jude Law; authentic filming in a real palace; the painstaking work of the costume designers is visible to the naked eye;

Minuses:

the title character looks less interesting than Jude Law’s character; the plot cannot be called extremely exciting; lack of feeling that the main character is really threatened, even despite her precarious position in the royal palace;

“The Queen’s Gambit” / Firebrand

Genre historical drama, thriller
director Karim Ainuz
Starring: Alicia Vikander, Jude Law, Sam Riley, Eddie Marsan, Simon Russell Beale
Premiere cinemas
Year of manufacture 2024
IMDb website

England, 1540s. While King Henry VIII is busy on the battlefields of France, his sixth and, as it turned out, last wife, Catherine Parr, plays the role of regent in the royal palace. With a deadly plague raging across the country, the Queen seems to be paying more attention to the Protestant reform preaching of her friend Anne Askew. Which, of course, entails the risk of both of them ending up on the scaffold.

Suddenly, the king returns to the palace earlier than planned. He is exhausted to such an extent that he cannot even ride a horse normally, and the wound on his leg has become very festered and does not bode well. The more the cruel man, on whose orders two of his previous wives were beheaded, rots, the more paranoia and mistrust will overcome the sufferer. Given his reputation as “Bluebeard”, this situation is quite dangerous for the queen, who has something to hide from her tyrannical husband. “The Queen’s Gambit” is the first English-language project of Brazilian director Karim Ainuz. The film premiered at last year’s Cannes Film Festival and competed for the main award, the Palme d’Or, but the victory went to Justine Trieu’s Anatomy of a Fall.

At first glance, it may seem that Ainuz’s film is a classic costume drama with a strong heroine in the foreground, who has faced many trials. Among them there are conspiracies and court intrigues that are obligatory for the genre. Of course, the film could not do without all this. But “The Queen’s Gambit” is less a story about the triumph of feminism, and primarily offers a plot about an abusive relationship and the queen’s attempts to maintain life and dignity in this cruel patriarchal world.

Yes, in one of the many dialogues it is mentioned that Katherine Parr has published a book and is not going to stop there. This emphasizes her education and high intelligence. However, this achievement will remain just a mention, not playing a major role in the development of events.

Much more significant significance in the plot is given to King Henry VIII and his all-consuming paranoia, which spreads in the monarch’s head no less rapidly than the rot on his long-suffering leg.

Actually, it would not be an exaggeration to say that Jude Law involuntarily pulls the blanket over himself and overshadows Alicia Vikander throughout the entire running time. The latter’s complete restraint is obviously due to the precarious position of her character. But this does not change the fact that the vile, corpulent despot, in whom it is difficult to recognize the well-known British sex symbol, evokes genuine emotions, unlike Catherine Parr.

It got to the point that on the set, for greater authenticity, Lowe used a special sprayer with a liquid that smelled like rotten meat. Therefore, everyone around him could really feel disgust when being next to the actor. The authenticity factor in The Queen’s Gambit really deserves a special mention. Filming took place at Haddon Hall Palace, located near the town of Bakewell, Derbyshire. Therefore, much of what we see on the screen is the interiors of a real historical building, and not studio sets. The local costumes are also pleasing to the eye: it is noticeable that the creators took the trouble and did serious work on this, of course, important aspect.

But, despite all the efforts of costume designers, actors, etc., this historical picture can hardly be called extremely exciting and a must-see. It is a well-known fact that Catherine Parr did not suffer the saddest fate of the previous wives of a tyrannical monarch, so while watching it, it is unlikely that anyone will feel a real threat to Vikander’s heroine. And in general, the movie can only be recommended to passionate fans of costume dramas, because a neutral viewer simply runs the risk of getting bored.

The Queen’s Gambit is definitely not an outright bad film; rather, it simply leaves you indifferent. And if you suddenly miss Alicia Vikander in a historical setting and in luxurious outfits of a bygone era, it’s better to re-watch “A Royal Affair.”

Conclusion:

“The Queen’s Gambit” is reminiscent of the main character in its faded quality, so the film is worth attention only if you adore costume dramas and miss cool performances from Jude Law.

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