The Queen (2006)
Reviewed on 2008 February 8
Layered film about the death of Princess Diana and the reaction the people of England had to both her loss, and the Windsors’ seeming lack of response to the loss.
HM Queen Elizabeth II (Helen Mirren, doing an amazing job) states she is so focused on taking care of the grandchildren that she can’t take time to console “a bunch of hysterics carrying candles” over the loss of her one-time daughter-in-law. She says she supports the wishes of the Spencers and that this is a private matter; a family tragedy to be mourned with dignity. The problem is the rest of the U.K. doesn’t see it that way, and the outpouring of grief and flood of flowers and cards left for Diana is starting to be eclipsed by a fury towards the royals. Why aren’t they in London? For her part, the Queen simply wants to stay in Balmoral Castle until things calm down.
As Tony Blair (Michael Sheen) points out, things don’t appear to be calming down. He reasons an appearance by the royals will do a lot to salvage their public image, which is being sniped at daily in the tabloids. This makes Elizabeth II even more determined to stay put, and director Stephen Frears focuses the rest of the 103 minutes on the battle of wills between the Queen and the Prime Minister.
It would have been easy for Frears to just bash the Windsors. It would also have been unjust and inaccurate (not to mention a boring movie). Mirren was wonderful, starting with the title shot when she’s in formal regalia and seems to be looking straight at you. The sadness and hysterics of the time were recreated well, and while it wouldn’t have been pleasant to marry into that family, the Queen didn’t deserve the ridiculous accusations that she helped shorten Diana’s life, either.
Three chocolate morsels, and a cup of tea. Served formally, of course.