Friday, 26 November 2010

The Queen (2006)

This is quite an unusual film in that it focuses entirely on the reaction to Princess Diana's death. The main characters are Queen Elizabeth II (Helen Mirren) and new Prime Minister, Tony Blair (Michael Sheen); their reactions are very different - Blair is in touch with the attitudes of the general public, the Queen isn't. Much of the movie is devoted to showing Tony Blair trying to help the Queen to understand how much the apparent attitudes of the Royals is hurting their reputation.

Peter Morgan does very well crafting an interesting story out of the fallout from a single event; it remains interesting throughout. It's neither pro or anti Royal Family or Government - it's actually quite sympathetic to both the Queen and Tony Blair, with only Cherie Blair (Helen McCrory) and Prince Philip (James Cromwell) coming out badly in how the characters came across, and Alistair Darling (Mark Bazeley) coming across as insufferably smug.

Much as it's a good movie and interesting in terms of the main plot, it was some of the final detail that fascinated me - one scene particularly stood out, which ironically was probably the most mundane scene of the whole movie. Tony and Cherie Blair are at home eating dinner, watching TV, and deciding whose turn it is to wash up; somehow one never thinks of the people who run the country having mundane domestic chores to perform. (Maybe it's just me...?)

Anyway, The Queen isn't exactly fast-moving but Stephen Frears directs with warmth, compassion, and an eye for detail. A fine movie, in many ways a peculiarly British film, for which Helen Mirren won an Academy Award, while the movie was also nominated in the Costume Design, Directing, Music, Writing and Best Picture categories. All those are merited, but I feel a bit sorry for Michael Sheen not getting a nod as his performance was superb.

CaptainD - Movie Reviews Blog

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