Anne Boleyn Review 2021 Tv Show Series Season Cast Crew
Historically problematic women make for great television. Anne Boleyn, the infamous Tudor queen, has proven to be as deliciously contentious in real life as in on-screen dramatic representations. Sony LIV’s three-part series Anne Boleyn is a new entrant into the multiple adaptations that have already created ripples (Wolf Hall, The Other Boleyn Girl, and the like). Yet, it is arguably the weakest link.
With the much-debated casting of Black actress Jodie Turner-Smith as the eponymous character, the makers underscore the themes of otherness and disparity in the Tudor court of Henry VIII. Though Turner-Smith’s enviable career graph would say otherwise, she shows little merit in this mini web series. The dialogues are frivolous and fail to capture the queen’s mental deterioration into oblivion. A proud and ambitious woman of agency, Anne Boleyn was known to have commanded Henry’s love rather than pine for it. But a couple of miscarriages later, her inability to produce a male heir thrust their lovesick dynamic into one of hatred and insecurity.
The narrative thread in the show is placed five months prior to Anne’s beheading. Already mother to princess Elizabeth, the younger Boleyn is all but sure of securing her steadfast presence at court with her imminent pregnancy. Even when she is technically safe and sheltered under her beloved brother George’s (Paapa Essiedu) watchful eye, Anne is never fully in control of her people’s affections.
Largely seen as a usurper queen, Anne is subject to mass hatred after she ascended the throne ousting Catherine of Aragon, a fact reasonably well treated by the series. But much akin to author Phillipa Gregory’s prejudiced novel (The Other Boleyn Girl), Anne in Sony LIV’s representation, is just plain villainous.
Unidimensional and painfully inspired by what seems like the ‘mean girls’ prototype, Anne is always scheming, always harsh. Her passionate lovemaking with Henry is also laced in her determination to continue manipulating him into believing that she deserves to be his soul life partner.Similarly, Henry is more of a buffoon, tossed around like a pawn by his women as part of their powerplay, rather than an unflinching head of a royal dynasty.
The cinematic motifs used in the mini-series also belies Anne’s trauma in her final days when an impending death was unavoidable. Multiple sequences – of ominous dreams, inward echoing voices, circling crows, fingers pricking on needles – to create an atmosphere of morbidity, suggest a one-way ticket to shortcut moviemaking. One that forces a reaction out of you with its slap and dash approach.Highly reductive in its treatment, Anne Boleyn serves no purpose to the already-rich legacy of the controversial Tudor king and queen.
The cast, especially Turner-Smith and Essiedu, are completely wasted and have little room to showcase their mettle. Budgetary constraints are also apparent with shoddy set designs and average costumes.There’s hardly anything going on for Anne Boleyn. The show feels so unnecessarily stretched, that Anne’s final fall may well be a welcome notion just so long as the end credits can roll.