Lady Jane (1985)

Genres - Historical Film  |   Sub-Genres - Biopic [feature], Period Film, Romantic Drama  |   Release Date - Feb 7, 1986 (USA)  |   Run Time - 142 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom  |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Mike Cummings

Acclaimed British actress Helena Bonham Carter made her screen debut in this 1985 historical drama about Lady Jane Grey and her nine-day rule as Queen of England. So good was Carter in her 16th Century role that filmdom began starring her in other costume dramas, both fictional and nonfictional, in which she continued to perform brilliantly. In Lady Jane, Carter aptly exhibits the principal qualities of her historical counterpart: precocity, idealism, resolve. Because the real Lady Jane was beautiful, according to historical accounts, Carter's own intriguing comeliness serves to enhance the accuracy of her portrayal and fuel the romantic fire she enkindles with Cary Elwes as Guildford Dudley, the playboy tippler with royal connections whom anti-papist oligarchs force to marry Jane to shore up England and the Crown for Protestantism. Machinations abound in whispers and echoing castle footsteps as director Trevor Nunn captures the atmosphere of a divided England just prior to the ascendancy of Elizabeth I. The film may have special appeal for young people who identify with the efforts of Lady Jane and Dudley to right the wrongs of corrupt elders after Jane wears the crown. Patrick Stewart, John Wood, Michael Hordern, Jane Laportaire, and Sara Kestelman support Carter and Elwes with able performances as puppeteers who pull the strings of power.