Costumes star in The Other Boleyn Girl





The first thing you notice is the frocks. They glow and shimmer most desirably, as the ladies swirl and pose in furs, filigrees, embroideries and jewel-bright satins. Not just on the red carpet, but also in the film: The Other Boleyn Girl, which had its world premiere in Berlin last night.

It's the tale of two sisters at the court of the Tudor king: the clever, scheming, brunette Anne and her younger sibling, the quieter, more unworldly blonde Mary. Played, respectively, by Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson - the casting of whom seems intended to tap American star power rather than to find actresses with a credible chemistry or family resemblance - the sisters vie for the favours of a svelte and charming Henry VIII (Australia's Eric Bana), who is still married to his first wife, but has a roving eye and an itch for a male heir.

The film will be billed as the battle of Scarlett v Nathalie to dominate the narrative. Both, in fact, are meaty roles and, while Mary appears wan at first, she grows in stature. There are good supporting parts, too. Kristin Scott Thomas, as Mrs B, opposes her husband's eagerness to pimp either or both of his daughters to the king in the cause of social enhancement; Ana Torrent, as Catherine of Aragon, fights like a tigress to defend her status.


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