Lady Jane [1986]

"I foresee a glittering future for your daughter," the conspiratorial Duke of Northumberland insidiously whispers to the mother of Lady Jane Grey, the woman who would be England's queen, albeit for only nine days. The same could be said for Helena Bonham Carter, who, in her screen debut, carries this historical drama with aplomb. Jane, a principled and precocious 15-year-old (she reads Plato in Greek) was a pawn in a plot to maintain Protestant rule in the wake of young King Edward's death. A dashing Cary Elwes, anticipating his swashbuckling role in The Princess Bride, costars as Northumberland's feckless, wastrel son, Guilford, whose arranged marriage to Jane unexpectedly blossoms into love and rebellion. Anglophiles will bask in this impeccably mounted production (featuring Patrick Stewart as Jane's bullying father), but swooning teens, too, may embrace these young lovers as did the youths who made Franco Zeffirelli's 1968 Romeo & Juliet a box-office smash in its day. --Donald Liebenson

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