Picks and Pans Review: Lady Jane

updated 02/10/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/10/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

American audiences can hardly be fascinated with a movie about a minor crisis of the English monarchy in the 16th century, especially one that also dwells on intellectual discussions of the Christian sacraments. What justifies releasing this film here are the smashing performances of two young British actors, Helena Bonham Carter and Cary Elwes. Carter, 19, plays Jane Grey, the young cousin of Queens Mary I and Elizabeth I who was installed as queen in a political coup on the death of King Edward VI. Elwes, 23, plays Jane's husband, Guildford Dudley, whose father engineered the coup. Queen Jane's reign—which turned into a sort of adolescent Camelot—lasted nine days before the rightful heir Mary ousted her and eventually had her beheaded. The intensity of Carter and Elwes makes not only their romance but the palace intrigue seem tolerable. But this often seems like a bad Masterpiece Theatre pilot that got lost on the way to PBS. Trevor Nunn, a legitimate theater director (Cats, Nicholas Nickleby), gave his first film a lot of pomp, hardly any circumstance. (PG-13)

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