Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Queen: Grade C


The Queen (2006)

Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen. Director Stephan Frears.

Princess Diana died in a car crash in 1997, and this is the story of how the queen failed to respond immediately to the public outpouring of grief, and of how new prime minister Blair cajoled her into finally making a public statement. Archival news footage shows Princess Di in public appearances, to tug at your nostalgic heart strings, if any. Mirren does Lizzy II down to the waddle, but it is more than a fine impersonation. She brings real complexity to the role and her Oscar is well deserved. Costumes and sets are perfect; dialog is believable. Music is over the top. There is a fine symbolic subtheme involving a 14-point stag representing the crown. The problem is that nothing is at stake. True, the royal family did not make an immediate statement about Diana’s death. Gosh and golly, how serious is that? Monarchy is a British cultural obsession that eludes us Yanks. It seems like everyone at Number 10 and Balmoral spend all their time watching television news and reading newspapers. Sadly, that might be right. This drama might have made a good brain-dead television show, but as a feature film, save Mirren’s performance, it is unremarkable.

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