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September 18, 2006


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The Queen
4 out of 5 stars

It’s been two years since I’d gone out to see a hyped old people’s film. Something’s Gotta Give turned out to be strangely unsatisfying at the time, and this weekend I’d rather have gone to see Little Miss Sunshine but the nearest cinema showing that is in Birmingham apparently. So much for Coventry being 8th largest city in England. We picked The Queen over The Black Dahlia however, even though the latter features Josh Hartnett. It turned out to be one of the better decisions of the month.

The main surprise is that The Queen – the film and the character – is funny. Helen Mirren turns the monarch into a witty, quirky, quintessential Britain. The film picks up with the 1997 election of Blair, and soon arrives at its main event: the week of mourning from Diana’s untimely death to her burial. It tries to recount the events from the Queen’s perspective, and does so in a moving way. The Queen’s actions and reactions are portrayed as her perception of the British character – for who could be more British than the Queen herself?

The plot is helped a great deal by the royals’ communication with Tony Blair (Michael Sheen). In a way, he explains her story to his entourage, as if he tries to convince the audience, the British public, that the Queen does indeed have a heart.

There are only two problems with the film. One is the slightly odd casting of Prince Charles – although the actor does look like a cross between his fictitious parents Helen Mirren and James Cromwell, he looks too bright a character for the eversad prince. The second problem is that the film looks as if it could have been an excellent BBC docu-soap. Yet, it is the film’s great achievement that it can tell us the Queen’s character by the events of one week, all concentrated in less than 2 hours.

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