Risk nothing and you gain nothing.
Apparently the makers of this film risked something when they cast two American actresses - albeit talented - into the roles of two famous British figures in history: Mary and Anne Boleyn. The latter is known for being the ill-fated second wife of King Henry VIII (Bana), while the former, unlike her sister, is hardly mentioned in history books (well, those which I have read, anyway). The film starts off with Sir Thomas Boleyn (Rylance) talking to his wife, Lady Elizabeth Boleyn (Scott Thomas) about the marriage offer of William Carey (Cumberbatch) to their eldest daughter, Anne (Portman). Instead of giving them Anne, he offered his younger daughter, Mary (Johansson) instead. Flash forward to many years later, Mary is getting ready to be married while Anne and their brother, George (Sturgess) happily and fondly dote over her. Soon after the wedding, Anne and Mary's uncle, the Duke of Norfolk (Morrissey), arrives and tells Anne that she can provide power and stature to their family by becoming the mistress of the King. Anne reluctantly agrees, and when the King arrives, she does all she can to get his affections. However, after a riding accident, King Henry comes face to face with Mary, and in the span of a half hour, he becomes completely besotted with the younger Boleyn girl. Instead of having Anne as his mistress, he takes Mary, despite her being married to William Carey. In a jealous fit, Anne swiftly marries Henry Percy (Coleman), but when her father and uncle find out about it through mary, they force her to divorce her husband and send her to France. Anne swears to get even with her sister, and her time comes when she returns from France, having received what her mother deems as a proper education for women. She quickly ignites the attraction and affection of the King, who unashamedly pursues her, despite the fact that Mary is pregnant with his child. Anne manipulates the events to her end, but things don't go as she planned. The ending... well, you'll have to watch the film to find out.
I loved the scenery and the costumes, and the acting chops of the cast was nothing short of perfection. Although I did have an issue with the accents Portman and Johansson presented, they gave a stunning and definitely believable performance. Bana shed off his gentlemanly appearance and became a raging bull when it came to the politics of the bedroom. A truly fantastic period piece.