Receiving its World Premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, ‘Robert the Bruce’ is the new film by Australian film maker, Richard Gray. Based around the historical character from Scotland, the film follows the warrior king in a time when he turned from nobleman to outlaw. After multiple battles and his army falling in numbers, his reign and legacy is put to the test as a bounty is put on his head by the then king of England, Edward. Huge rewards are promised to whoever kills Robert which in turn makes this period of time a very difficult one for the King of Scotland, as not only does he have the English to worry about, but his own people too. After escaping an attempt on his life, Robert seeks shelter and collapses. He is discovered by a family who take him in and tend to his wounds, fully aware that whilst doing this, they are putting themselves at risk.
Angus MacFadyen reprises his role as Robert from his previous outing of the character in ‘Braveheart’ back in 1995. This time, the film is all about Robert which allows for the Scottish actor to showcase his talents in a leading role, which have been few and far between for the actor between these two projects. MacFadyen shines in his role as Robert and instils a sense of confidence and power that I would expect from somebody in the position of power Robert possesses. The role that really impressed me though was that of ‘Iver’, performed by Talitha Eliana Bateman. The seventeen-year-old actor from America comes into the film a little later on but grabs the film by the scruff of the neck and adds real quality by showcasing an impressive array of emotions. In one particular scene whereby she recites a poem told to her by her late Father you can feel the emotions portrayed with such clarity. Equally impressive is her Scottish accent, one that is particularly difficult to master, it would appear, from the number of actors who struggle with it. . I predict a bright future for Bateman, especially after adding this to her repertoire alongside her stellar performance in ‘Annabelle: Creation’ back in 2017.
‘Robert the Bruce’ is gifted by a great director, Richard Gray, who obviously had a fantastic vision for the film. Bearing in mind that not all of the film was shot in Scotland but rather in Montana, USA, the film maker did well to utilize the cheaper location whilst making it a believable as 14th Century Scotland. His exterior shots of the film are both breath-taking and beautiful. A film goes a long way when it is both pleasing to the eye and one with an interesting story, which this has.
When I started watching the film, I did struggle initially for the best part of 25-30 minutes. The film starts off fairly slow but begins to improve in scenes following the attempt on his life. This is when we get a deeper understanding of the main characters and dive into some of Roberts’ internal emotions fighting for dominance. Apart from the initial slow start, I really enjoyed the movie. If you’re looking for a film that covers a historical aspect with action set pieces and drama, then this film is for you. ‘Robert the Bruce’ arrives in cinemas in the UK on June 28th.