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As with any film, the most
nail-biting scenes occur
when the main character is
shown reading the paper.

The Queen
Review written by: Alex Sandell

The Queen belongs to Helen Mirren.  Sure, some guy directs it and some other guy writes it.  A few other people act in it and all of them do a fairly good job.  But it's all about the masterful performance given by Helen Mirren. 

The best I could say about the movie when it ended was, "I guess it never bored me."  That's actually no small compliment, in light of the fact that it deals with a subject I could care less about and is a film filled with conjecture. 

The plot revolves around the days immediately following Prime Minister Tony Blair's (Michael Sheen) landslide victory and, more importantly, the untimely death of Lady Diana Spencer.  Or, as I like to call her, "The Aristocrat Formerly Known as Princess."

Tony Blair is all about calling Diana the "People's Princess" and desperately tries to persuade Queen Elizabeth II (Helen Mirren) to show some dignity and drop some of the royal traditions for once in her prissy life.  Elizabeth's seeming inability to publicly mourn for Diana nearly destroys the British Monarchy, in much the same way President George W. Bush's seeming inability to publicly admit everything he's ever done as President has been a gigantic mistake is nearly destroying U.S. Democracy.

The film focuses on the Queen's internal battle between what she feels is right (tradition) and what the public wants (a royal funeral).  It's sort of like Hamlet, without all the Shakespeare.  As with Hamlet, if the wrong actor were chosen the entire thing would have been a disaster.  But with Helen Mirren, they chose the right actress.

Mirren keeps your eyes glued to the screen.  You can't help but be taken by her faultless performance.  Entranced by her every nuance.  In awe of her very artistry as an actress. 

It helps that the supporting actors are far from slouches.  Michael Sheen makes for a credible -- if too sympathetic -- Tony Blair.  But the performance that most impressed me, outside of Mirren's, was that of Alex Jennings as Prince Charles.  Jennings looks nothing like the actual Prince, but he gets the whole blank, confused, "Why-Am-I-A-Prince-Exactly?" thing down in such a way that you quickly believe he is the Prince.

As he did with last year's Mrs. Henderson Presents, Stephen Frears directs a film that doesn't feel as important as the material it's based on.  He takes a serious subject and flirts with turning it into fluff.  But as with Mrs. Henderson Presents, his actors pull through and make his movie much better than it actually should have been. 

As a film, The Queen is merely average.  As a piece for actors to strut their stuff, it excels.  Overall, it shouldn't be missed, but you wouldn't be missing much if you waited for it to be released on DVD.

Agree? Disagree? Considering Hare Krishna? Email Alex!

On a scale of 1-10?

7

What does this rating mean?  Everyone rates things differently.  Your "5" could be my "7," or vice-versa.  Find out what MY rating means by clicking here

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