Film review by Colin Fraser
|Britain, 1997. The country elects a new Prime Minister shortly before the death of Diana Spencer. The Queen finds her world has changed overnight.||score
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1 (unwatchable) to 5 (unmissable)
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Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen, James Cromwell, Sylvia Sims, Alex Jennings
UK / France / Italy
Rating / Running Time
M / 97 minutes
(c) moviereview 2006
ABN 72 775 390 361
In some regards, The Queen is a comedy of manners. It is an acute dissection of the formality and protocol that surrounds our monarch on a daily basis, mined here for gentle comedy, and occasional hilarity. The Queen is also a ballsy drama surrounding one of the most violent deaths to have stricken a beloved, public figure. Detailing Her Majesty’s response to Diana Spencer’s untimely demise, Frears critiques the days and weeks that paused a nation, if not the English speaking world, with bitter-sweet results. The incident was also the first significant event of Blair’s fledgling government. Recently awarded the keys to Nr.10, he was thrown headfirst into an unprecedented predicament. Clearly Diana was not Queen Elizabeth’s favourite, yet her confused response to a grieving nation appeared that of a mean-spirited, cold-hearted woman. Frears suggests the issue was significantly more complicated.
Mirren won an Emmy for her role as Elizabeth I. There’s no doubt she’s an Oscar contender as Elizabeth II. One might easily confuse her for the real thing, so hypnotic and all-consuming is this performance. It comes from deep within to reveal a Queen and mother for whom a lifetime of service has left her completely unprepared for the situation at hand. As Blair’s coaxing brings HRH back to a neglected people, so too are we drawn to his understanding of the complexities of her position, and much maligned viewpoint. Here is a bewitching, unforgettable performance from Mirren and a career-best from Frears. The Queen is a remarkably beautiful film, full of sentiment, though unsentimental; thought-provoking, illuminating, entertaining. It’s everything a film should be.
// COLIN FRASER