Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Queen

"Sleeping in the streets and pulling out their hair for someone they never knew. And they think we're mad!"

Directed by: Stephen Frears

Written by: Peter Morgan

Starring: Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen, James Cromwell

My Rating 4/5

The Queen deals with the period of time just before and after the death of Princess Diana and the angry speculation surrounding the Royal Family’s staunch silence. The family’s disdain for the princess is not focussed on or frowned upon. Frears treats it as a matter of fact, rather than a controversy. When the messenger arrives relaying the news of Diana’s death, Prince Philip rolls his eyes and says “What has she done now?” This, along with the Queen’s solemn, pensive reaction embodies the overall detachment that the Royal Family felt from the Princess. The Queen didn’t feel that her death had anything to do with her family because she was no longer part of it.

As a film, The Queen unfortunately creates a rather “made by the BBC” visual tone. It has very little cinematic merit in that respect. However, absolutely every other aspect of it is pure cinema at its best. The delicate breaking-down of the title character is perfectly paced and perfectly well-rounded. The film isn’t trying to get you to embrace the monarchy again. It merely helps the audience to understand the intricacies of being raised as the future Queen of England.

The greatest accomplishment of The Queen is its perfectly balanced representation of its heroine. Never becoming propaganda, it both humanises her and shows the depths of her inability to engage with normal human emotions. The only person responsible for this accomplishment is Helen Mirren. At this stage in her career, the legendary quality of her acting accolades has become joke-worthy (perhaps not as much as Judi Dench, but not far behind), but this performance will certainly go down in history as one of the most accomplished performances ever committed to celluloid and the showers of awards are completely deserved.

Overall, an almost perfect film with faultless performances by all concerned. An interesting set of extra features makes this film a welcome addition to any DVD collection.

- Charlene Lydon

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