July 28, 2007 - Cate Blanchett is a royal success in this 1998 drama about the early days of Queen Elizabeth I of England. Geoffrey Rush plays her loyal advisor and protector. Joseph Fiennes is the love of her life.

The movie begins with a young Elizabeth, in her pre-queen days, cavorting with Lord Robert Dudley (Fiennes). But, these are dangerous times and, fearing a plot, Queen Mary (Elizabeth's older half-sister) orders Elizabeth locked up in the tower. Soon though, Mary dies from cancer and the single and beautiful Elizabeth becomes Queen.

Ruling a country has its perks, but it also presents problems. In Elizabeth's case, those problems included political pressure to marry and produce an heir. She also has to deal with tensions between the Catholics and Protestants. If the movie is to be believed, the Pope at the time gave his blessing to a plot to overthrow Elizabeth and sent a monk assassin (a pre-Bond Daniel Craig) to help get the job done.

Overall review: *** Worth a look, but don't expect a docudrama. The film takes vast liberties with history. For example, the film largely centers on a Catholic-led plot to assassinate/overthrow Elizabeth. According to the movie, her beloved Dudley was in on it. In an admittedly surface-scratching fact-finding effort, I have found no mention of such a plot and absolutely no indication that Dudley ever did anything to undermine her reign. Though Elizabeth and Dudley did have rough patches, he seems generally to have been a trusted friend and advisor.

The film also seems to have taken some historical events out of order. For example, the marriage proposal from the Duke of Anjou happened well into Elizabeth's reign. But, in the movie, it seems to have happened earlier on.

Having said all that, the movie looks great and is well-paced. It runs about 2:05 but doesn't drag. Blanchett received an Oscar nomination for her work and the film itself was nominated as Best Picture.