I've heard many people saying this is the worst Oscar nomination for Best Actress in years and years... I gues I kinda agree up to a certain point, as the movie and the performance were indeed disappointing. It's a juicy role the one of Queen Elizabeth, yet poorly (over)done by (this usually excellent) performer...
approximately 46 minutes and 52 seconds
44.1% of the film
An exploration of the relationship between Elizabeth I and the adventurer Sir Walter Raleigh.
The costume design, the art direction, the cinematography (at least until the pathetic war scenes), Samantha Morton as Mary, Queen of Scots - unfortunately not used enough and bits & pieces of Cate's performance. But that's it. Really.
Where to start? For me, the worst thing was Clive Owen. I almost never like him, but here, as W. Raleigh, he probably gives his worst performance ever; boring character, dull, cheesy performance. The screenplay's a mess, the direction flawed as hell. A big problem for The Golden Age is that it takes itself too seriously without having the material to afford & justify its pretensions. The music is overused and just throws gas on fire. Silly villains, pathetic scenes (there's one with a Nostradamus dude that kills me), a oneway vision of history and so so many other flaws.
Cate Blanchett as Queen Elizabeth I
Upon a second viewing, I was surprised to find decent elements in this performance. Let me just say I loved Cate as Elizabeth in the 1998 movie. Looking for something to like here, I can say I dig her hoarse voice, a bit cartoonish, but I found it to be right for the character.
Cate also does well in the more quiet, restful moments at the beginning of the film. She is also witty, playful, but not over the top.
Or she's just vulnerable, humane, a woman dedicated to her work, not getting any younger, realizing she has nothing else to hold on to.
I'm obviously simplifying the story of a queen - one who looks fabulous in those beautiful costumes :) . I do believe Cate is right for the part - she has proven this in the first Elizabeth; maybe not as right as Glenda Jackson was, but still. Yet it's hard to explain why the director didn't show her the right way this time and why she fell for the bad guiding...
The Bad & the Ugly:
Once Clive's really in, the movie starts to sink, in both story & performances from the most of the cast. It's really a mystery.
On one hand, Elizabeth becomes this schoolgirl, infatuated with this pirate. It's a silly storyline that doesn't do justice to the character, presenting her as a frustrated ugly/uglier duckling.
Lots of tears, lots of drama, it's funny though it shouldn't.
And then, there's Elizabeth fighting the Spanish. In one particular scene, she's screaming her heart out. They actually used it as an Oscar clip at the Academy Awards. Oscar moment my ass. Over the top, screamy, no subtlety, just like some desperate housewife in a drunk rage. She even looks like the wife of Count Dracula:
There's too much going on with this performance, and even more with the actual movie. She's going into the wrong direction with the character, her acting is all over the place. Even so, I have to salute the performance from the very first minutes of the film, when it was more fun and showed a drop of potential. I give Cate .