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Girls scrub up a bit soapy

PUBLISHED: 15:06 05 March 2008 | UPDATED: 17:10 16 August 2010

WIVES OUT: Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman are love rivals.

WIVES OUT: Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman are love rivals.

BRIT TV drama director Justin Chadwick s debut feature length effort is pitched as a juicy behind-the-scenes glimpse into the house, and bedroom, of King Henry VIII

BRIT TV drama director Justin Chadwick's debut feature length effort is pitched as a juicy behind-the-scenes glimpse into the house, and bedroom, of King Henry VIII but has more in common with soapy melodrama than a sumptuous period piece.

Sir Thomas Boleyn is an ambitious man and sees in his two beautiful daughters, Anne and Mary, a chance to raise the family's social standing. Leaving behind a simple life in the country, the girls are sent to court to worm their way into the affections of King Henry VIII (Eric Bana).

Initially Mary wins the king's favour and bears him an illegitimate child as his mistress, but placing personal gain over sisterhood, Anne embarks upon a ruthless mission to usurp her sister and eventually replaces Queen Katherine of Aragon as Henry's wife.

After giving birth to a daughter and stillborn child, the king starts to tire of Anne, and when it comes to light that she tried to seduce her brother to conceive a baby with her, she is tried for treason, adultery and incest.

Portman and Johansson look the part and work well together but struggle to stamp the roles with any real personality. The characters they portray are flat and one-dimensional and their attempts to nail the British accent are almost comical at times. Bana seems out of his depth and lacks the charisma and presence to really pull off a passable King Henry.

Perhaps due to the director's earlier work it's difficult to escape the feeling of watching a TV mini-series rather than a genuine historical epic, which is something of shame as all the ingredients were in place for this to have been a real stonker.

* The Other Boleyn Girl opens in cinemas tomorrow.

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