In an Oscar- and BAFTA-winning portrayal, Helen Mirren plays Queen Elizabeth II in the days following the tragic, unexpected death of Princess Diana, as the monarchy struggles to comfort a heartbroken nation.
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Just saw this again recently. It's a very constraint, yet confident, movie... pretty much like the Queen herself. I guess it could easily have turned her into some sort of heroine/martyr in the midst of everything that was happening to her life after Diana died, but it didn't. The script and Helen Mirren made this a very human and believable Queen. The whole symbolism of the deer was quite clever.
I was worried that this might be an obtuse, populist caricature of the monarchy. Far from it, Frears' level-headed direction and Peter Morgan's delicate screenplay manage to make this a sensitive but unsentimental portrait. Perhaps it helps that my reaction in '97 was that the public had gone bat-crap-crazy over Diana's death and I had to tune out the ridiculous media coverage, so my sympathies are already aligned.
The week following Princess Diana's death was indeed an extraordinary time for the media, the monarchy and the nation in general but Frear's film doesn't begin to do it justice.
Despite competent acting, the insights are shallow, not least in the film's adoption of a moral centre in the virtuous careful diplomacy of Tony Blair (played by Martin Sheen).
Ultimately an unconvincing, smug and rather exploitative film.
This is a wonderful mixture of wit, docu & drama. It shows that even Elizabeth II & her family are human beings. Although nearly plotless it's still a beautiful movie because it shows the emotions of people who obviously shouldn't have them. There is no doubt that Helen Mirren's performance makes this movie special. Also because Stephen Frears refrains from conspiracy theories & just lets the cast do a perfect job.
While it does hammer in its points about embracing modern ideals too hard at various moments, this is still an intriguing look behind the scenes of British politics. Even if it's obvious where the filmmakers' sympathies lie, it does examine both sides completely, reinforcing the theme of mutual understanding. Helen Mirren is superb (unsurprisingly), bringing all the facets of her character to light.
The moment in time the film attempts to address is rather muffed in that the underlying political conivances are far more interesting and telling than trying to crack the reserve of the titular character. The film largely fails on both accounts and instead remains a rather cautious exercise in semi-speculation.