Connect with us


A Medieval Drama That Just Sits There – Variety



“Robert the Bruce” sounds prefer it may very well be the title of a Mel Brooks parody of a rousingly high-minded chain-mail-and-Lochaber-axe medieval hero epic. (It’s a sword clank away from one thing like “Bruce the Lionhearted.”) I don’t imply to return off as ignorant or disrespectful, since Robert the Bruce was, after all, the 14th-century Scottish king who fought alongside William Wallace and is revered in his homeland for having led the First Warfare of Scottish Independence towards England. However, the individuals who made the staid, morose, and achingly pedestrian historic drama “Robert the Bruce” are slightly too in love with the sound of individuals saying that identify. “Robert the Bruce! Are you able to hear me?!” shouts the chief of a roving band of roughneck English loyalists, time and again. In case you watched this film and performed a ingesting recreation the place you needed to take a slurp of ale each time somebody says “Robert the Bruce,” there’d be nobody sober left.

The image opens with a black-and-white title that reads, “Scotland, 1306. The dying of King Alexander III has left the nation in turmoil. With no inheritor, highly effective nobles compete for the Scottish crown.” I’ll confess {that a} title like that one leaves me vaguely depressed on a number of ranges. There’s a this-movie-will-tell-rather-than-show annoyance constructed into it, because the very premise (a “nation in turmoil”) is one thing we’re by no means actually going to see. Much more so, that type of title is simply too usually a gateway to Boringville.

But it doesn’t must be. Within the ’90, “Braveheart” evoked a rousing tinge of old style Hollywood ardour, and so did the even higher “Rob Roy.” Simply final yr, “The King,” about Henry V, had an elegantly rounded script and fierce performances from Timothée Chalamet and Robert Pattinson (amongst others). “Robert the Bruce,” although, is a “heartfelt” however static expertise.

It’s the second drama about Robert the Bruce in slightly over a yr (after David Mackenzie’s muddier, bloodier “Outlaw King”), and it’s theoretically a companion piece to “Braveheart,” since Robert is portrayed by the identical actor who performed him in Mel Gibson’s movie: Angus MacFadyen, who had a dashing presence and the coal-fire eyes of a real believer. Twenty-five years later, MacFadyen, extra rounded, with brief hair and a much less ornate goatee, appears to be like and acts like a chastened monk — or, at essential factors, like Anthony Hopkins if he had been a competitor on the Professional Bowlers’ Tour.

You would possibly anticipate, in one in all these films, to see an episode wherein the hero, defeated and dispirited, licks his wounds at an remoted farmhouse after being taken in by a patriotic Scottish widow and her three younger expenses. However in “Robert the Bruce,” that’s kind of your entire film — it’s “Braveheart: The Well mannered Domesticated Streaming Model.” The movie is dunked in a lukewarm bathtub of doubt and remorse, as Robert, reeling from a collection of navy defeats, involves query whether or not God has really chosen to him to be king. He must get his swagger again. But it surely’s the film itself that appears to be preventing to do this.

Initially, when Robert faces down John Comyn, the clan chief who’s his rival for the Scottish throne, Jared Harris performs Comyn by throwing some Shakespearean fireplace into his strains. “You need the one factor you can not have,” he hisses. “To be William Wallace…The way it should coil in your intestine.” Has Jared Harris ever given a uninteresting line studying? In “Robert the Bruce,” he has such flourish that he units the bar at a spot the remainder of the drama refuses to go.

Robert, seeing that his males have misplaced their preventing spirit, dismisses them; he’ll make his personal approach, even with a bounty of 50 gold items on his head. He first spies Morag (Anna Hutchison), a saintly widow, huddled together with her younger son, Scot (Gabriel Bateman), over her late husband’s grave, so proper off we all know that Robert goes to be the brand new father determine. He’s taken in by them after almost being killed. And as his stab wounds heal, he wins them over, together with Morag’s teenage niece and nephew (Talitha Bateman and Brandon Lessard), despite the fact that the kids begin off resentful, as a result of all of them have misplaced their fathers to the reason for Robert’s conflict. He teaches them the deadly arts of swordsmanship and archery, in addition to classes like, “You realize what it takes to be a great soldier?” “Killing plenty of males?” “No. To be a great soldier, first it’s a must to be a great brother, a great good friend, and a great son.” You additionally must endure excessive ache — like, for instance, sitting via dialogue like that whereas making an attempt to prop your eyelids open.

Directed by Robert Grey, “Robert the Bruce” seems like a producer’s film — a somber bundle, with parts all lined up that don’t absolutely come to life. The choice to make use of the wilds of Montana to face in for the Scottish Highlands was a great one, and the brogues are largely effective. The truth is, the 2 finest brogues within the film could also be by American actors — Patrick Fugit, in a shaved-at-the-sides Scottish-punk-metal battle minimize, as one in all a trio of Robert’s males who find yourself making an attempt to kill him for the bounty, and Zach McGowan as Brandubh, Morag’s feral brother-in-law, who covets her and despises Robert. McGowan is aware of find out how to make investments ire with intelligence, and he has mastered the artwork of constructing using a horse seem like a type of strutting. When he’s onscreen, the movie vibrates. Whenever you’re watching MacFadyen’s Robert, it swells with the Aristocracy and deflates on the identical time.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copyright © 2020 - 2021, All rights reserved.