The other Other Boleyn (and hospital)
Posted by Oli on Monday 10th March, 2008
Up far too early this morning to get off to Harefield for my first trip there in a month. Slipped into clinic still dripping from the torrent of water being unleashed from the heavens in the short walk between the car park and the main building, to be greeted by a very quiet scene after an apparently large number of cancellations. All the better for me, though, because the fewer people in clinic the earlier I get away.
Went through all the usual rigmarole and emerged the other side pretty much unscathed – weight’s up a kilo, SATs looking pretty stable, temperature good, lung function moving up smoothly.
K had the day off work, so took it upon herself to take us both shopping in Watford thanks to our 3-hour hiatus afford by the usual clinic practices of waiting for results before seeing the docs. Somehow, we managed to walk the entire length and breadth of the Harlequin Centre in the middle of Watford (albeit mostly looking for food) and come away without spending any money whatsoever and a brand new Blackberry Curve for me. I was impressed.
Proceeded to return to H-base and got into see the great MC pretty snappily. He was perfectly happy with my progress, which was something of a relief as last time I’d seen him he was mildly concerned about my slight plateau in lung-function and indicated that if it didn’t improve I’d have to go back in for another Bronch et al. My issue was I didn’t know how much he wanted it to have improved by in order to skip that part of the plan. Turns out, it just needed to be going steadily the right way, which indeed it was. More than that, some of the more obscure numbers (rather than the simple FEV1/FVC numbers we are given) had apprently jumped further than he’d have looked for. So win-win really.
Also managed to catch up with Emily briefly after we missed each other in the morning thanks to her having a bit of an “off” moment. Really weirdly, having not seen each other for months and months and months (since I was in hospital after my initial op), we’re now down to see each other twice in a week as we have a Trustees meeting for Live Life Then Give Life on Friday. Funny how the world works.
Managed to escape Harefield by just after 3, which had us home and dry by 5 after a brief Tesco-and-petrol detour on the way back. After half-an-hour or so of sitting doing nothing, itchy feet took over and we settled on a night out at the flicks to catch The Other Boleyn Girl.
Although on the surface – and in large parts – it’s a very ordinary (if star-studded) costume-drama/book adaptation covering the lives and loves (well, love – Henry VIII) of both Anne and the lesser-known Mary Boleyn, there are moments of brilliance smattered throughout.
It’s testament to the two leading ladies, Natalie Portman as the Queen-to-be-beheaded and Scarlett Johansson as her younger, less fortunate(!) sister, that one still feels fairly hefty pangs of emotion at the denoument that you’re well aware of before the film even starts.
In the hands of a lesser pairing, Anne’s betrayal of her sister and her semi-sadistic schemeing to win the heart of the King and the throne she believes to be her right would be too much for an audience to forgive. And while I can’t say I went the whole hog to total forgiveness, to imbue such an innately unsympathetic character with enough humanity to carry such weight on her death is remarkable. But it’s not solely down to Portman’s work – without Johansson’s pain, anguish and subsequent forgiveness and the enormous risks taken at the end being wrote so large and ingrained so deeply within her performance, the audience wouldn’t be allowed the access to the emotions we’re lead to feel.
It’s not a flawless film, by any means – there’s a few stilted performances and even some of the big guns involved take a while to hit their stride, but it deals deftly with the passage of time and there are some emotional beats within the story that the film nails as perfectly as any movie I’ve seen this year. Worth a look if historical and/or costume dramas are your kind of thing – not one to be immediately dismissed if they’re not.