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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 35.19%
Average: 7.41%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 0%

5 reviews, 24 user ratings

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Queen, The (2006)
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by Lybarger

"Dame Helen rules."
4 stars

The story depicted in “The Queen” is old news (try 10 years old, to be exact), but screenwriter Peter Morgan and veteran director Stephen Frears (“Dangerous Liaisons”) manage to make a subtle, vibrant and intriguing movie out of a potentially torpid subject.

“The Queen” covers the brief but pivotal period after August 31, 1997 when Diana, Princess of Wales and her boyfriend Dodi Al Fayed died in a car wreck.

The United Kingdom becomes engulfed in mourning, but within the Royal family, opinions of the Princess could politely be described as muted. Queen Elizabeth (Dame Helen Mirren, “Calendar Girls”) and her husband Prince Philip (American actor James Cromwell) admire what she’s done as a mother but find her divorce from their son Prince Charles (Alex Jennings) distasteful.

While the Royals keep to their affairs at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, thousands of their subjects leave tons of flowers at the gates of Buckingham Palace. Many are upset to the point of rioting at how the indifferent the Monarchy seems about the death.

The Prince and newly elected Prime Minister Tony Blair (Michael Sheen) realize that the situation could permanently mar the way the British view their Sovereigns. Blair’s confidants consider the Queen and her court antiquated, and his wife (Helen McCrory) is vocally anti-Monarchist.

Having spent the last few years courting public opinion, the PM realizes that the stiff upper lip attitude that the Royals winning conveyed in World War II is completely wrong for the current situation.

Watching Blair deftly persuading the Court to take a more acceptable PR stance is surprisingly fascinating. Morgan’s eye for detail is astonishingly sharp, capturing all of the rituals and nuances that both the bureaucrats and the Royal family live by. At times, the film seems like a bizarre linguistic game as both the PM and the Queen attempt to speak the same language.

Giving the film its soul, however, is Mirren’s engaging performance in the title role. Instead of playing an outsider obliviously insulated from the rest of the nation, Mirren’s Elizabeth almost longs to be one of her own subjects (at the beginning of the film she muses about what it must be like to vote), and it’s fascinating to watch her gradually make the adaptations she needs to preserve the honor of the Crown.

Mirren projects the requisite dignity even as Elizabeth faces crowds who like her far less than Diana. The actress also conveys an inner warmth that isn’t immediately apparent. This makes it easier to care if she reconciles with her subjects.

Neither she nor Sheen attempt to impersonate their real-life counterparts. This is a plus because a straight impersonation would have distracted from the story and would have reduced their performances to caricature.

Both get able support from the rest of the cast and from Frears’ no-nonsense direction. In the end “The Queen” works magnificently because it reminds us that rulers have human hearts even if they live in a world the rest of us can only imagine.

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originally posted: 02/12/07 04:27:46
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Vancouver Film Festival For more in the 2006 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Chicago Film Festival For more in the 2006 Chicago Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Austin Film Festival For more in the 2006 Austin Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

3/03/08 ladavies Helen Mirren was perfect, the movie was very watchable. 4 stars
7/14/07 mb Life has challenges and we always have to bow to dumb things 3 stars
7/09/07 R.W. Welch Adept portrayal of Queen caught in media circus. Acting is uniformly first rate. 4 stars
6/20/07 johnnyfog Mostly suger-coated bullshit, but a nice fable 3 stars
5/30/07 Piz Vibrant, engaging and neat twist on Di's controversy. Brought to life very well. impressiv 4 stars
5/29/07 Monday Morning Refreshingly free of car chases and explosions; something to think about for a change. 4 stars
5/18/07 Phil M. Aficionado 4.5 stars, but an added one for the character development/projection. Honest all the way. 5 stars
5/04/07 Lynn Good, but slow and boring. The Queen needs to get laid once in a while. 4 stars
4/30/07 Total Crap lol, isn't prince charles supposed to be ugly? 4 stars
4/20/07 Mermaid's Pedicurist Why couldn't they get someone to play Prince Charles who looked ANYTHING like him? 4 stars
4/18/07 David Pollastrini not great, not terrible 3 stars
2/12/07 MP Bartley H.M. forever! (Helen Mirren, not Her Majesty). 4 stars
2/02/07 ES Enjoyable, it's nice to get a look at boths sides of the equation 4 stars
1/23/07 orpy really good, not great 4 stars
12/13/06 Rick Superbly subtle propoganda 4 stars
11/22/06 jdean62 EXCELLENT... the actiing alone is worth seeing this film... I smell OSCAR !!!! 5 stars
11/17/06 Suzz Mirren's performance is fine but the film is no more than an average tv movie 3 stars
11/12/06 malcolm excellent performances all around, but subject matter just didn't interest me much 4 stars
11/10/06 Elizabeth Helen Mirren and Michael Sheen are terrific. Heartbreaking reliving the tragedy. 5 stars
11/08/06 coolbyrne Absolutely stunning performance. Cannot recommend enough. 5 stars
10/27/06 Tiffany Losco This was a great movie. 5 stars
10/10/06 Lauren Helen Mirren gives an amazing performance. A Movie which has Oscar written all over it. 5 stars
10/10/06 Rich Cirivilleri Helen Mirren is going to win the 2006 best actress oscar for this performance. 5 stars
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  30-Sep-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 24-Apr-2007



Directed by
  Stephen Frears

Written by
  Peter Morgan

  Helen Mirren
  Michael Sheen
  James Cromwell
  Sylvia Syms
  Paul Barrett
  Helen McCrory

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