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.
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.
Less about the Queen and more a story about Tony Blair as a new PM capitalising on Diana's death. Good performances all round and solid writing, but ultimately not particularly cinematic. Ironically, it now comes across as a warm up for Peter Morgan's sublime TV series The Crown.
A slick surface and Mirren's perfection can't hide how sloppy and ham-fisted this sometimes is, falling into the same kind of tabloid fare that it purports to scrutinize. A lot of the dialogue could have been lifted from a made-for-TV BBC royal exploitation flick. Occasionally manage to say something meaningful about tabloid and TV culture, and Michael Sheen and Sylvia Syms are very good, but this is a slight film.