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Sunday, August 05, 2007

The Queen

Last night's movie was The Queen starring Helen Mirren in the title role and Michael Sheen as Prime Minister Tony Blair.

There aren't any real spoilers that I need to worry about giving away. If you were alive in 1997 and had the TV on during the time of Princess Diana's death, you pretty much know the sequence of events. The movie opens with Tony Blair being elected prime minister in a landslide and his first visit with the queen. She allows him 15 minutes before excusing him.

There's a montage of Diana taken from real sources in that time period and then the story resumes with news of the accident that Diana was involved in. Most of the rest of the movie shows the royal family's actions/reactions to her death and how out of touch they are with the mood of the rest of Great Britain. In fact, the queen greets Blair's calls to her vacation estate in Scotland with irritation. She doesn't appreciate his warnings and dismisses the coverage she sees on television and the newspapers as the media trying to sell newspapers. In the end, however, she does listen to Blair and brings the royal family to London.

This is a dramatized version of real people and real events, and I couldn't help but wonder how much of what I saw was true. I mean of the personalities of those involved, since I do know the public events occurred and it's doubtful that anyone knows about the behind-the-scenes events since sometimes there was no one present except the actress playing the queen or some other royals, and certainly they're not going to share this information, so I had questions. Is Prince Phillip really a jerk? Is Charles really that ineffective and wussy? Is the Queen Mother really the way she was portrayed? Or Tony Blair and his wife? I don't follow the royal family or British politics enough to know the answer to any of these questions, but I'm curious.

The Queen wasn't a movie that I'd had any great desire to see. I added it to my queue at Netflix because I wanted to make an effort to see some of the films that were nominated for Oscars. No one is more surprised than I am at how much I totally loved it! Helen Mirren did a brilliant job and it's no wonder than she won for Best Actress. I believed she was the queen from her first appearance and she managed to convey so much emotion even while keeping her facial expression neutral. That couldn't have been an easy thing to do, but she pulled it off.

Again, because everything revolves around events that really happened, there are no sudden plot twists. What carried this movie was the actors involved--particularly the queen and the prime minister. The bulk of the movie really seems to revolve around their relationship during the time of Diana's death.

As soon as I finished the movie, I thought about watching it again (I didn't because of how late it was), that's how much I enjoyed it. For a good, well-acted, character-driven film, I highly recommend The Queen.

My rating: 4.5 stars