JT Film Review

83 – The Queen (2006)

The Queen REVIEW

4.5/5 stars

Director – Stephen Frears

Cast – Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen, James Cromwell, Alex Jennings, Helen McCrory, Roger Allam, Sylvia Sims

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The Queen is a film by Stephen Frears, and is the second of writer Peter Morgan’s “Tony Blair Trilogy”, in which Michael Sheen plays the British Prime Minister. The first is The Deal, a TV movie from 2003 about Blair’s rise to power, and the third will be The Special Relationship, which will be released in summer 2010, about his relationship with American president Bill Clinton.

The Queen is set during the tumultuous week after Princess Diana’s death. Princess Diana was a very popular figure, and ex-wife of Prince Charles. Her down-to-earth manner and relaxed attitude towards the strict royal traditions endeared her to the general population of England, despite the numerous “scandals” she was involved with. Naturally, the royal family was not so fond of her.

After her death the nation went into mourning, and there came an outpouring of grief that shocked the royals. Queen Elizabeth II and most of her family wanted to keep their grief private and not mention the situation in public, as Diana was at the time no longer part of the royal family. The queen believed this was what her country wanted. Tony Blair confronted her on this, advising her to address the people before their confidence in the monarchy dwindled to nothing.

The film sticks notoriously close to true events. Apparently inside sources were used to even get some specific conversations right. Naturally there are some things that had to be inferred or invented, but The Queen comes off as remarkably true due to its attention to detail. Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II is perhaps a bit too thin, but otherwise she (and the rest of the cast) are very close approximations of their real-life counterparts. Michael Sheen particularly stands out as the newly elected Tony Blair.

When presenting a film about a historical figure, especially when involved in such controversy, movies tend to either stand with the person or go against them. This movie does neither, it instead shows the queen as a person with difficult challenges to make who is perhaps a bit out of touch with her people. This was a good move, as both monarchists and anti-monarchists can watch the film and see in it what they will.

The Queen has a nice measured pace to it, moving forward steadily but not making too big a deal out of things. It lets the events of the story determine the speed and urgency of the movie, and thankfully does not try to pull us in with a false sense of danger or importance. British movies tend to avoid that trap fairly well, that is perhaps why I am so partial to them. There is also a nice healthy dose of British wit running through the movie, reminding us that a bit of sugar does indeed help the medicine go down.

OVERALL

The Queen is a very strong movie with excellent performances. Its tone is soft, yet mature and pressing, and it does a very good job of blending archival footage within the movie. Don’t worry if you aren’t familiar with this particular period of British history (late nineties), as we are shown everything we need to know. I highly recommend this movie to anyone interested in this sort of thing.

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TRAILER

“The Queen” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

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April 8, 2010 - Posted by | 4.5 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Drama, Year - 2000-2009 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. i loved the scene where she meets the deer. it’s a beautiful scene that worked thanks to a great cast and production team.

    Comment by G | April 12, 2010 | Reply

  2. I agree, it is a good scene, and I like that it was left to the viewer to decide a) what the scene meant, or b) if the scene even had a meaning, or was just there for emotional punch. It makes you think.

    Comment by jamesturpin | April 13, 2010 | Reply


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