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FIREBRAND (in theatres)

At times compelling, oftentimes confusing, generally entertaining if you put history aside and just go for theatricality, drama and scintillating intrigue. With an ending of outrageous possibilities.

Brazilian director Karim Aïnouz tests his proficiency with a foreign scenario; the terminal days of Tudor King Henry VIII (1491-1547) and his sixth and final wife Katherine Parr (1512-1548). Acting transcends a vague and meandering plot; Alicia Vikander with mesmerizing subtlety cements the intelligent, conniving, vibrantly dramatic, iconoclastic Queen; to survive, she courageously masks her connection to religious reformers especially her friendship with Protestant preacher and poet Anne Askew (1521-1546). Actor Erin Doherty rises to a pivotal summit in her career as the initial “Firebrand” in the film.

Jude Law disappears as he depicts the degenerate, repugnant, suppurating Henry; the debauchery of his decaying body matches his slimy, menacing behavior; Law grasps the King’s agonizing, perpetual torture that consumes and devours his rationality, his demise foreshadowed in his wretched jealousy of Katherine’s health; any affection eclipsed by his diminishment. Law champions a man of sport, a warrior, founder of the Church of England, disintegrating as his entitlement, kingship evaporates as does his “Firebrand”.

Based on Elizabeth Fremantle’s novel “The Queen’s Gambit” focusing on the elusive and ignored Katharine Parr; a published author, a linguist, proficient in five languages; she educated and mothered Henry’s children, including Elizabeth, daughter of Ann Boleyn, future Queen. Her power was informed by her wisdom and understanding of a maniacal king, herein lies her survival, “Firebrand”.



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