FilmReview

Film Review: The Adventures of Maid Marian

Reviewer: Helen Tope

Writer and Director: Bill Thomas

A new interpretation of an old story, The Adventures of Maid Marian takes us beyond the outlaw fantasy, and into an imagined future.

Inspired in part by the 1976 film Robin and Marian, which sees Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn portray the couple in later life, Bill Thomas’ version starts three years after Hood’s successful defeat of the Sheriff of Nottingham. Robin has been fighting abroad with Richard the Lionheart while is Marian sequestered in a nunnery. In Richard’s absence, England slides into lawlessness, with the Sheriff eager to take advantage.

Marian (played by Sophie Craig) is not a simpering maiden, but a girl with serious skills. Quick on her feet, and proficient with weapons, this Marian needs no protection. The story begins when a letter arrives at the nunnery, announcing the death of Richard the Lionheart. Robin is returning home. Marian’s lack of religious devotion has not gone unnoticed, and the Prioress (Jennifer Matter) releases Marian of her commitments. Heading into the forest, Marian and Robin meet. News of his return has reached the Sheriff and the couple are ambushed. Robin is badly injured, but they escape, the Sheriff’s men hot on their trail.

With a fairly basic plot, the emphasis is on character. Craig makes the most of her role, with Marian becoming a heroine through necessity. She is built to survive, and in a reversal of gender roles, is the support Robin leans on. Dominic Andersen’s Robin is gentle and boyish, too much so for someone who has witnessed three years of war. His good looks still charm Marian, and this is a relationship very much built on former loyalties.

Thomas’ twelfth-century world, with its shakily-drawn lines between authority and Hood’s band of outlaws, is the film’s most successful element. There is a moral slipperiness embedded throughout, and we are never quite sure who to trust. We are on safe ground with Robin and Marian, but it is Marian at the centre of the action. She is both warrior and strategist.

While experimenting with Marian’s character pays off, Thomas’ villains are not given adequate development. Despite a solid performance, Bob Cryer’s Sheriff feels two-dimensional, which is frustrating as Cryer has the ability to create a fully-fledged monster. This is also a problem with the smaller roles: there is a budding chemistry between Robin, Marian and Little John (John Lee Pellet) that just never gets enough screen time. From this perspective, the film feels out of balance.

There are parts of The Adventures of Maid Marian which really come together, and Craig’s no-nonsense performance is central to that. But in using a story that is more supposition than actual fact, the possibilities for extending and colouring the narrative should be an open invitation to any film-maker. The resulting film doesn’t take us on the promised adventure. It is an earthy, entertaining story of cat and mouse, but the sketchy characterisation and unwillingness to be bolder, means that The Adventures of Maid Marian never quite fulfils its potential.

Signature Entertainment present The Adventures of Maid Marian on Digital Platforms 9th May.

The Reviews Hub Score:

Earthy, entertaining story

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The Reviews Hub Film Team is under the editorship of Maryam Philpott.

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