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Though many a fine actress has essayed the role of Elizabeth I and done so quite successfully, each finding her own vision of the most important queen that ever lived and translating that to film (Cate Blanchette, Bette Davis, Judi Dench, and Glenda Jackson to name but a few), it should come as no surprise that the enormously gifted actress Helen Mirren could show us yet another aspect of Elizabeth.
This Elizabeth is set in her middle fifties, a woman still able to maintain her reputation as the Virgin Queen while settling into various assignations. Here Elizabeth is in love with Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex (Hugh Dancy) while being prepped for a 'proper union' with France's royalty in the form of the Duke of Anjou (Jérémie Covillault). But her 'love life' is only a small yet refreshingly nuanced portion of the long story. Mirren is fortunate to be supported by such fine actors as Jeremy Irons, Patrick Malahide, Toby Jones, Barbara Flynn, Ian McDiarmid, Simon Woods, Diana Kent, and Toby Salaman among the many standout characters.
The visual aspects of the production are some of the more luxurious ever placed on celluloid, with attention to detail in costuming (Mike O'Neill) and sets (Galius Klicius and Leon McCarthy) that are stunning to see. The fine musical score is by Robert Lane and incorporates period music with works written for the piece that stand solidly as classical music compositions. Cinematographers Dmitrij Gribanov and Larry Smith find the right balance between court grandeur and boudoir intimacy. And of course kudos to Director Tom Hooper and writer Nigel Williams! But standing above them all is the brilliance of Helen Mirren's involvement as Elizabeth. She provides us with even more information about the enigmatic queen, allowing us to see both the lusty woman and the brilliant monarch simultaneously. The film is a joy! Highly Recommended.
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