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70 out of 103 people found the following review useful:

Excellent film by Frears

10/10
Author: chrisuk452003 from United Kingdom
21 September 2006

What an amazing Film; Mirren should get an Oscar and Blair was brilliantly portrayed too but best of all was the cinematography - the highlands, the stag - transcendental and wonderfully conceived and executed. Best film I've seen in ages. It perfectly portrayed the balance between the traditionalist monarchy on the one hand and the new modernising labour government on the other. The dialogue between the main protagonists was excellent and there were also some wonderful one-liners; "tell him to hang on" in reference to a 'phone call from Gordon Brown was the one I enjoyed the best. All the royals were well portrayed and it was a nice touch keeping the princes, William + Harry hidden from view.

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83 out of 131 people found the following review useful:

Paparazzi Kissed the Princess

8/10
Author: David H. Schleicher from New Jersey, USA
9 October 2006

The paparazzi kissed the princess that fateful week in 1997, but all the English people wanted was their Queen. Stephen Frears' competent, well written, expertly cast and intimate look into the Royal Family and British government in the aftermath of Princess Diana's death is a straightforward, no-nonsense stunner.

Operating both as a comedy of manners where the newly elected Prime Minister Tony Blair (an excellent Michael Sheen) must save the Royal Family from themselves before the Monarchy is tossed aside completely by an angry, guilt-ridden public desperately wanting a statement, a word of comfort, or at very least the presence in London of their Queen Elizabeth II (played masterfully by Helen Mirren, who is as cold and stubborn here as she was conflicted and passionate as Elizabeth I in the HBO miniseries of the same name earlier this year), and also as a surprisingly touching testament to the British people's love affair with Princess Diana and more importantly the Monarchy, "The Queen" succeeds splendidly on multiple levels.

Frears combines archival footage of a grieving public and newscasts with intertwining splices of historical recreations and fictionalized riffs on what it must've been like inside the Royal Chambers. The writers get the mannerisms of the Royals down perfect, as people with stiff upper lips who declare their outrage with words like "quite" and "that's not how it's done!" One miscalculation is when the writers try to create a connection between Blair's love for his deceased mother and his newfound sense of protectionism over Elizabeth. It's only surface level, and Freudian, and seems rather out of place in an otherwise totally British film. The rest of the Royals serve as a sideshow, with Prince Charles wimpy and ineffective in the presence of his mother, Prince Phillip (James Cromwell) a rowdy lout, and the Queen Mother (Sylvia Sims) providing equal parts comic relief and aristocratic wisdom to her daughter.

In the end, "The Queen" is a film that sneaks up on you, funnier and more touching than you imagined, and anchored by a classic turn from a consummate British actress as a Queen who desires to understand her people and do them proud while honoring the traditions of her lineage.

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46 out of 59 people found the following review useful:

Helen Mirren Creates Another Triumph!

10/10
Author: gradyharp from United States
25 October 2006

THE QUEEN seems like one of those biographical features that would be difficult to hold anyone's interest - on the surface, without the benefit of knowing much about the content. Queen Elizabeth II is not exactly a figure who generates anything but a response of boredom, so flat and uninteresting is her persona. But enter Helen Mirren, one of the finest actresses on the screen today, and this potentially boring potentate becomes a vibrantly detailed and fascinating portrait of a queen at odds with the times. It is a staggering achievement.

Director Stephen Frears, using a superb script by Peter Morgan, details the time from the election of Labor Party Prime Minister Tony Blair (a brilliant Michael Sheen) to that momentous international outpouring of grief and love that followed the tragic death of Princess Di in 1997, showing the bifurcation of response between the Royals and the People as represented by Blair. Instead of the insensitive cold figure that the world witnessed as QE II, Mirren shows us that the woman who is Queen actually had feelings for her grandchildren, a respect for her station as royalty, and was gradually responsive to the cry of the people via Blair's influence, allowing the world to pay proper tribute to a heroine. The ogres in the Balmoral Castle were in fact Prince Phillip (James Cromwell) and the Queen Mum (Sylvia Syms) abetted by the very proper Robin Janvrin (Roger Allam) and the wishy washy Prince Charles (Alex Jennings).

The entire production is beautifully filmed with the use of clips from Princess Di's life (and death) instead of creating an actress role to portray her - a very wise choice. The musical score by Alexandre Desplat is superb (with a little help from Verdi's 'Libera Me' as sung by Lynn Dawson and the BBC chorus for the funeral portion). But indeed the accolades go to Helen Mirren in an Oscar worthy performance - with the very strong counterbalance by Michael Sheen. An excellent film about a moment no one will ever forget. Grady Harp

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30 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

Here's a film for my all-time top 200 list!

10/10
Author: (roland@atkinsononfilm.com) from Portland, Oregon, United States
30 November 2006

It's still early innings, but Stephen Frears's The Queen is definitely going on my short list for best film of the year, and it will stay there. It's a flawless, burnished production, a virtually perfect film. This glowing, suspenseful docudrama retells the story of the days of upheaval in London and elsewhere, in 1997, shortly after Tony Blair had just won for Labor, by steering clear of trades unions and welfare statism, while flogging his "let's modernize Britain" program, window-dressing for his Clinton-like political shift to the right.

Then, on August 31, Princess Diana, recently divorced from Prince Charles, was killed in a high speed auto accident in midtown Paris. The film's story turns on how various echelons of British society reacted following Diana's death. Dramatized are many vignettes that bring together the major personalities at the center of the highly public dilemma that unfolded in the few days following Diana's passing.

Helen Mirren was, as they say, born to play Queen Elizabeth II. In every tableau, in every body movement, in every nuanced shift in feeling she conveys to us, with or without words, she is simply majestic. But this movie is far more than a showcase, a star vehicle, for Ms. Mirren. Each of the major supporting players, portraying some prominent person, is superb. Besides The Queen, we have The Queen Mother (Sylvia Syms), Prince Philip (James Cromwell), Prince Charles (Alex Jennings), Mr. Blair (Michael Sheen), and their respective retainers, playing out at close range their responses to one another, within the framework of a taut cultural and political crisis, one that is, above all else, a threat to public support of the Monarchy.

This drama takes place in an enervating, though also suppressed, emotional atmosphere, the tension level constantly ratcheted up by the principals' responses to pressures from the public and the press. (Of course the accuracy of the depictions is open to some question at least, and, in addition, there is the insurmountable problem that no one knows for sure the full truth about many of the rumored conversations -discussions that might or might not have transpired among these people - that are dramatized here. It is fair to say that the actors have magnificently sculpted their characterizations to fit the common perceptions of these celebrities in the public eye.

But there's more: I haven't yet touched on the main reason that I think this movie will be considered a classic decades from now. That is it's overarching subtext, not about individual personalities, but about a deep change in the very fabric of social custom signaled by events after Diana's death, especially in Britain, but also in the U. S. and other "anglophilic" "developed" nations. The point is made crystal clear in the film: Elizabeth's seemingly callous aloofness from the public in the wake of Diana's death is the result of her conviction, based on her upbringing, that duty must come first, that stoicism is the face one shows the world, while personal feelings are an entirely private matter, hence not to be aired in public. One must soldier on. Stiff upper lip. The English way.

According to this film narrative, Queen Elizabeth makes a serious miscalculation when she fails to consider, or perhaps even to perceive, the fact that the terms of public discourse - perhaps especially with regard to the open expression of personal sentiments - have changed radically around the world. Frank disclosure of personal feelings and issues once considered taboo for public consumption, emotional "witnessing," and even mass catharsis, have for many become the norm, displacing public stoicism, in response to poignant events. We know this from many lines of evidence, of course: confessional literature and film; the outpourings of personal tragedy and conflict on "Oprah" and a host of clone television and radio shows, and so on. But the Royals' cloistered existence very probably has always shielded them from accurately gauging the pulse of popular societal changes.

Never in recent times had there been such a worldwide wave of acute public grief over the loss of a single person, perhaps not since John Kennedy's death, as was the case of Diana, whom so many admired, revered, indeed, loved, even if from afar. The Queen documents with brilliance and power this major sea change in societal conventions, a shift that historians will undoubtedly look back upon as one of the most important and influential quakes in the tectonic annals of civil conduct. My grades: 10/10, A (Seen on 11/29/06).

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26 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Outstanding

10/10
Author: Maria from Ireland
26 September 2006

Everything, really utterly and completely everything in that movie, from the performance of the exquisite leading lady down to the smallest word or movement was perfect. There isn't a single flaw in it, not one, not a single one. I was a bit tired while watching it, but still that movie held me mesmerized to the screen all through it. Helen Mirren brought to life a Queen Elizabeth II that I would have never expected, and the outstanding performances of Michael Sheen as Blair and James Cromwell as Prince Philip (and the entire supporting cast) only made everything that much better. I will be the first to admit that I respected the British people for managing to uphold this wonderful ages-old tradition in today's modern world, and if I were British, I guess I would have shared in their royalist pride (although I do wish you could go to London and bring back souvenirs that didn't necessarily have a monarch's face plastered allover them). But I remember when Diana died, I was one of those ignorant people (yes, after that movie especially, that's the word I would use) who were bullying the queen for her lack of emotional display. This movie set right certain things that have been bothering me for quite some time whenever I thought back to what I was like at the time. It put many things into an entirely different perspective (not nearly all of which having to do with Lady Diana's death). But most of all, it stripped the queen of her ice before my eyes, and revealed a human being that ironically enough, the movie also made me understand why I did not see before. To top it all, there is the wonderfully tactful and flowing dialogue, and the mesmerizing performances of Cromwell and Sheen at both her sides. The movie, just as its leading lady, flows gracefully, with quiet dignity and respect, and captures the audience's hearts in the way we would least expect. I almost cried several times throughout the movie, and the memory of Diana was only one of the reasons; the Queen was the other. I also have to salute the cinematography in this film, especially sequences the likes of the one that led up to Diana's death, which was brilliant, as well as the various combinations between original and archive footage. So in a nutshell, my verdict? An absolute must-see, regardless of whether you're a "fan" of Her Majesty or of Lady Diana or neither. Go see this movie, it will change the way you see so many things in your life, I promise that much. I guarantee it. And if Oscars were still being given out to people who deserved them… but we all know that's wishful thinking. Let's just say that Helen Mirren deserved much more than 5 minutes of standing ovation. I know it's strange coming from me (or anyone), but I believe the Queen herself, if she is in fact anything like the Queen portrayed by Mirren, would have been very proud of this movie.

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15 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

A Royal Knockout

9/10
Author: NormanCroucher from United Kingdom
23 September 2007

I have never been a particular fan of the Royals, nor indeed of the monarchy itself. I also felt the mass hysteria that overloaded and in many ways out shone Princess Diana's death was of the most hypocritical kind in regards to a guilty media, and outrageously superfluous on behalf of a needy public. Yes, that week was truly a memorable one if you lived in Britain and owned a television set because you couldn't fail to be engulfed in the bleeding heart hysteria that followed on from Diana's untimely demise.

"The Queen," sifts through that week of high drama to tell an elegant and quintessentially British story about our values and our expectations of the family people love to hate. Helen Mirren looks every inch The Queen of England and quite exceptionally captures a portrayal of the woman by investing her with a heartfelt dignity, conviction and humanity, that the real Queen should be nothing less than flattered by. Mirren secured herself that Oscar the moment production wrapped; she is truly sensational, carrying us through the whole movie with a grace we rarely see on the big screen these days. Michael Sheen is also to be praised for his uncanny impression of Tony Blair, although he scratches deeper than just surface imitation and digs deep to unearth the once idealistic, and seemingly honourable Prime Minister in the early days of his premiership. Support also comes courtesy of a terrific James Cromwell who adds that light touch of comic relief in the role of Prince Philip, while Mark Bazeley as Alistair Campbell reminds audiences how instrumentally devious a spin doctor can be. Every performance is spot on and helps do justice to the brilliantly written script by Peter Morgan who somehow has drawn to light the different sides involved in that week of tragedy and media spin without being too intrusive in terms of the grief of Princes William and Harry, while Stephen Frears never turns the stock footage of Diana into something overly ghoulish or unseemly.

Ultimately though, this story is not really about Diana at all, her death merely serving as the catalyst for a deep and painful self-reflection for The Queen on her monarchy and personal aversion to Diana and the circus slowly gathering outside Buckingham palace. Further to that, the film is most sincerely, you could say almost whimsically, about the relationship between The Queen and Tony Blair, their differing views on modern Britain and the general public who populate it. I found myself seeing The Queen and Mr. Blair in quite new lights, putting more faith and respect in the decisions they made in that fateful week, and believing that solidarity, compromise and respect played a key role in laying Diana's memory to rest. It is also very amusing at times too, and when not tickling the ribs with a sardonic sideswipe by Prince Philip or a wry put down by The Queen Mother about Blair's "Cheshire cat grin" Morgan's script and Frears' controlled, beautifully unshowy direction combine to create the most tender and curious of scenes where The Queen encounters a lone stag in the wilds of her estate whilst at her weakest moment, and draws a strength from that rare meeting of beauty up-close. Another gem of a scene is where she is greeted by a little girl who is there not to simply pay her respects to the Princess of Wales, but to the Queen of England herself, with a bouquet of flowers. Very sweet, and very touching.

This truly is a strong piece of work, quite possibly one of the best films of its year, certainly as fine a British production that I have seen in some time. The characters are well drawn and strongly performed, the writing insightful and totally believable, while the warmth of the material makes me think I might start appreciating our Royal family just that little bit more. Certainly if The Queen's emotional wealth of character and strong, traditional values can survive and rise above cynical opportunism and media mined mass hysteria then I'm sure she can survive anything. But above all else "The Queen," goes to show that no matter how unjustly wealthy, obnoxiously powerful or goofily out of touch the Royals may be, as a family unit they are just as complex, dysfunctional and quirky as any other family in Britain. This truly is a royal treat, please do believe the hype and don't let Her Majesty pass you by.

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8 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

I'm impressed!

9/10
Author: hotaroo from Poland
15 September 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I'm impressed. The movie is good, and truthful. I'm not to judge how close to the truth were Balmoral scenes, but behavior of public and tabloids was perfectly recreated.

Warning, SPOILERS ahead.

The cast is wonderful. Hellen Mirren as Her Majesty The Queen and Michael Sheen as labor Prime Minister Tony Blair are as good as perfect. During the Queen's speech to the nation on live TV I wasn't able to determine if it was Mirren's voice, or the real Queen speaking. Often I found myself thinking that I'm watching archive material from that period's news, but then it turned out that the actors recreated everything! Wow! Both of them carry the movie and Mirren's award from Venice is well deserved. What's interesting, is that there are practically no right or wrong sides of the conflict here. At the beginning Blair is trying to mate with the public, but realizing that by doing this he undermines the monarchy, he is trying to correct the error. The Queen is keeping her ground, not bending to the tabloids demanding royal tributes paid to Diana (lower the royal flag on the mast above the Buckingham Palace, go back to London, live TV speech to the nation – something that wasn't done even when the previous king died!); while the Queen wishes to keep the matter private, to deal with it as a family, not The Royal Family, because Diana was no longer a part of it. The ending is very straightforward. Ironically, each side is presenting the other's point of view: Blair is bashing his adviser demanding respect for the Queen and talking about all the sacrifices she had to commit. The Queen is pointing out to Blair why he had changed his attitude and prophets the same treating from tabloids as the one she got. The most powerful scene for me was the one when the Queen returns to Buckingham Palace and takes a walk by the gate, looking at the flowers and cards left there by the public. No one really realized until now, that the Queen really must have seen what was written on these cards! And I felt ashamed… "Diana, you were too good for them" or "Your blood is on their hands". There are fragments of interviews with Diana where she indirectly accuses the Queen of what bad had happened to her. Only today I realized, that Diana was attacking a person unable to defend herself! We don't really expect the Queen to appear on Jonathan Ross' to present her part of the story, do we? And there is a second face of this coin. The subplot of hunting and killing of a deer is script writer's comment on the monarchy. And a prophecy - very sad, at that. I know that it makes this movie a little bit more fictional, but the message had to be sent.

I loved it. Made me realize something that I thought I knew – the Queen is a living and breathing person. And that Diana was not the only victim of the media then. So was the Queen, and the monarchy.

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10 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

fourteen points

10/10
Author: pookey56 from Canada
14 November 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

i've had a few days to think about THE QUEEN, and i say without shame that this is a perfectly constructed film with the necessary bonus of a great ensemble cast. This has got to be the great, Helen Mirren's year, in spite of everything. She has now recreated both ElizabethR's, and does it like nobody else. Watching the solid and versatile James Cromwell playing her idiot, cousin-husband was also very good; and i mean no offense to staunch royalists. British history and particularly it's ancient monarchy is one of my passions, so i waited for the films' release with anticipation. It was a true treat seeing Ms Sylvia Syms playing the queen mum. There are brief comments made about the royal family which are less than complimentary but true. But Mr Frears doesn't dwell on them, points out Elizabeth's devotion to her country and to her tradition, without hitting us over the head with it. I loved his film, THE GRIFTERS. THE QUEEN is equally as good. Some of my fellow film fans feel that the magnificent stag, so relentlessly hunted for it's fourteen points, represented Diana. For me, it represented the entire royal family, and especially the Queen. I loved the opening quotation assessed to Henry 4, who basically usurped the throne from family with a better claim: "uneasy is the head that wears the crown", or something close to that, For him, it was. But he did his fair share of back stabbing himself to retain power. The scene with Helen and Sylvia consulting about what to do was especially powerful. it's quite true that Elizabeth is descended from a long, unbroken line which precedes the Norman conquest. As queen, she has, imo, done everything she can and more to fulfill her obligations and her birth right, putting her country before anything else. The weak and ineffectual Charles wasn't man enough to marry the woman he loved. Some may argue that he was doing "his duty", but if he was, he destroyed a few lives along the way. And i do believe that yes indeed, he would let his mother take a bullet for him. Not nice to say, and perhaps a tad unfair. Elizabeth, on the other hand, threatened to abdicate as heir presumptive if she couldn't marry Phillip. Then there are the references to George the sixth's demise, from the stress of being King when he wasn't up to it, nor groomed for it. Well, other Kings had older brothers die,such as his own father; one was even passed over in favour of a younger one; others seized it. I think his excessive smoking and depleted immune system from generations of cousin-marrying probably didn't help, since he died from emphysema. or so we're told. But i admired him, and i adored his wife, the late Queen Consort Elizabeth. Don't get me wrong; i really feel no moral criticism about cousins marrying; but i do believe in hybrid vitality. And then there's the Hapsburgs! Her relationship with Tony Blair was believable and quite likely very close to the truth. I do believe i recently watched Mr. Sheen portray the insane emperor Nero... This is a glorious, tasteful film with an unbelievable performance by Helen Mirren. It may not be everybody's "cup of tea", but it is a gem. *I wish i could have had a better look at those portraits hanging behind The Queen. There were her grandparents, her great grandparents, and Victoria, i believe, who was her great great great grandmother...spectacular collection of art and portraits...some were cut off at the waist, headless..like that magnificent stag....

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11 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Howling Hysterical Sorrow

7/10
Author: James Hitchcock from Tunbridge Wells, England
11 October 2006

At the time of Princess Diana's funeral I remember thinking that, instead of rewriting "Candle in the Wind", Elton John should simply have performed a song from "Evita"- the one that asks the questions "Why all this howling hysterical sorrow? What kind of goddess has lived among us? How will we ever get by without her?" Tim Rice's lyrics were, of course, originally written about Eva Peron, but they could equally well have been written about the British public's over-reaction to Diana's death.

Those sentiments were not popular ones in September 1997, but they should not be taken as implying that I have any particular axe to grind against either the Monarchy in general or Diana in particular. Republicanism is simply another manifestation of our regrettable tendency to jump on American bandwagons (in this particular case two hundred years too late), and I have always thought that King Charles III and Queen Diana might have made a formidable Royal couple. Charles the Head, with his intellectual interests in spirituality and the environment, and Diana the Heart, with her spontaneous human warmth and touch of sex appeal, could both have brought qualities to the Monarchy which it has sometimes lacked in the past. Unfortunately, their wildly contrasting characters, which could have made them such a great Royal team had they been able to avoid washing their dirty linen in public, made it impossible for them to live together as a married couple. The woman we buried on that September morning nine years ago was no longer Our Future Queen but rather the dead mistress of a millionaire Egyptian playboy.

This film is not about the life of Diana (there is a great film to be made on that subject, but it has not yet been made and probably will not be for a number of years). Nor does it attempt to analyse exactly why her death should have provoked such hysteria, including not only hysterical sorrow but also hysterical anger against the Royal Family. I suspect that the main culprit was the media which, exercising the harlot's privilege of power without responsibility, had over the years built Diana into (to borrow another phrase from "Evita") "a cross between a fantasy of the bedroom and a saint". The press found itself under criticism when the paparazzi in its employ were implicated in her death, and needed to divert the public's anger onto a new target. Given, however, the incestuous interdependence of the media world, where press barons own shares in television and film companies, film-makers are often reluctant to subject the Fourth Estate to too much scrutiny.

This is, rather, an examination of the relationship between Queen Elizabeth II and her Prime Minister Tony Blair and of the roles played by them in the events following Diana's death. The two are sharply contrasted, but the contrast is not one of ideology. The Queen is constitutionally obliged to remain politically impartial and Blair, who moved New Labour into the centre ground and away from its traditional attachment to Socialism and class-based politics, is probably less likely to harbour anti-monarchist sentiments than many earlier Labour politicians. (The Old Labour republicanism attributed to Cherie Blair in this film looks very old-fashioned). Rather, the contrast between them is that between differing temperaments and, even more, between different generations.

The Queen is the representative of the older generation, a believer in tradition, in dignity and emotional restraint. She sees no need to rush back to London from Scotland (the Royal Family traditionally spend late summer on their Balmoral estate) or to fly the Union Jack at half-mast over Buckingham Palace. (Tradition decrees that only the Royal Standard, which denotes the presence of the Monarch and is never flown at half-mast, can fly over the Palace). She is sympathetic to the Spencer family's wish that Diana should be given a private funeral. Blair, on the other hand, represents the younger generation- he is a believer in innovation and change rather than tradition and more sensitive to the public mood. His politician's instincts tell him that the Royal Family's attitude represents a public relations disaster in the making, and tries to persuade the Queen to return to London, to fly the flag and to grant Diana the official funeral for which the public are clamouring.

Michael Sheen bears a close resemblance to the Tony Blair of nine years ago, and has clearly studied him closely in order to catch his every gesture and nuance. I was not, however, particularly impressed by his performance. He seemed to have fallen into the trap of watching his subject too closely, becoming a mimic rather than an actor. I felt that I was watching an impressionist of the Mike Yarwood or Rory Bremner school impersonating Blair rather than an actor playing him in a serious drama. Some of the members of the Royal Family, such as James Cromwell's Prince Philip and Sylvia Syms's Queen Mother, seemed one-dimensional figures, based upon popular preconceptions rather than any attempt to create rounded characters. Alex Jennings's Prince Charles was rather contradictory; at times he seemed the most sympathetic of the Royals, at others weak and cowardly.

By far the best performance came from Helen Mirren as the Queen. In the past she has chosen some rather dubious vehicles for her undoubted talent (notoriously "Caligula"), but this is one of her most assured performances of recent years. Her Elizabeth II emerges as a very human and sympathetic individual as she and Blair, despite their many differences, discover a growing respect for one another's point of view. In many ways, this subject would have been more suitable for a TV drama than a cinema release. Mirren, however, always makes it worth watching. 7/10

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14 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Rare insights and an emotionally rewarding film

8/10
Author: Chris_Docker from United Kingdom
18 September 2006

Imagine for a moment you are newly elected landslide Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and your modernising beliefs don't really welcome obeisance to an outdated monarchy. Princess Diana dies, and the nation turns with venomous tooth and claw (aided perhaps by a certain spin doctor) against the Royals. A golden opportunity? But Blair feels there is something unseemly about tearing the Queen to bits and, in the middle of the crisis, kicks in some damage control.

This is the dynamic of power that bounces back and forth, aided by shrewish asides from Cherie Blair ("Off to see the girlfriend, then?") and her hilarious curtsy that manages to be respectful while still taking the p*ss. Delivering a sparkly dialogue and an especially witty battle between monarch and minister, director Stephen Frears' central accomplishment still has to be casting Helen Mirren as the Queen. No hard-line royalist, Mirren has said she thought twice before accepting her honours as a Dame of the British Empire in 2003, but her portrait here is convincingly astute, supporting a remarkable physical transformation with a sensitive characterisation that endears the Queen to us and renders her majesty's charisma all the more apparent.

In an early scene where the Queen is chatting to her portrait artist, she mentions the coming election and expresses a longing to vote, just once, for "the sheer joy of being partial." The artist reminds her that it is, after all, her government, and Queen Elizabeth retorts, "Yes, I suppose that's some consolation." Obviously there's some things money can't buy.

The film examines her character, her stoical dignity born of years of tolerance not of her choosing, and is maybe so gripping because previous portraits have been little more than a regal cipher. At the end, we feel that we have been privy to the private life of a person who, like her or not, is a feature of everyone's life in the UK. It maybe lacks the grandeur that is traditionally associated with the Queen, but is nevertheless a fairly sympathetic portrait. When Blair tells her how her ratings have dropped to an all time low, she is genuinely upset that she has failed to read her public - to whom she has devoted her life. The film, with all its light-hearted touches, maybe even assists the process of 'modernisation' that the Monarchy now believes is inevitable.

Much of the power in the performances is from unexpressed emotion. All the players are in such important positions that displays of feeling are usually taboo, publicly and sometimes privately as well. After her husband takes her grandchildren stag hunting to 'take their mind off things', the Queen is privately close to shedding a tear for the stag. A moment in the Balmoral countryside when she is alone with the creature reveals a sense of wonder in her that she cannot communicate to the human companions of her world, and she visits the body of the beast (when it is later killed by a neighbour) with more alacrity than she feels towards a dead daughter-in-law who has been her near ruin. Diana, in life, was perhaps also isolated, and we are reminded of her devotion to causes such as banning land-mines - causes to which she could unleash her emotion and, fortunately for her, to which the public could also identify.

The film evokes strong feelings - not least in bringing back the sense of national mourning that followed Diana's death (actual footage is used and the moments leading to the car crash are movingly re-created) even if this goes on to an almost sugary excess. Add to that the crisis of feelings within the Royal Family itself, the sense of isolation felt by the Queen, and the release of the film near the end of Blair's career, and you have a movie that presents a whirlwind of emotion that will thrill public tastes.

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