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Gunpowder, Treason And Plot Review

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Jimmy McGovern's drama based on the lives of James I and his mother, Mary Queen of Scots

★★★★

Writer Jimmy McGovern (Cracker, Priest) and director Gillies MacKinnon (Pure, Small Faces) speed-flick through the history books, from Mary Queen Of Scots’ arrival at Leith, to James I’s discovery of the Catholic conspiracy to blow up Parliament.

The first half throws us headfirst into political upheaval, as passion and murder are fired by religious rivalry. The second half — with Robert Carlyle as the tormented king — doesn’t have the same forward motion, but its contention that one man’s religious terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter is interesting in this day and age. If school had been this sexy, we’d all be academics.

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