I Watched… (#40)

25 Apr


The Queen (2006)

Stephen Frears’ Oscar-winning biography follows HRH Queen Elizabeth II (Helen Mirren) for the one monumental yet troubling week following Princess Diana’s death in the summer of 1997.

Helen Mirren deservedly won an Oscar for her quite simply majestic performance as the conflicted Queen, needing guidance from the brilliant Michael Sheen (as the ever-grinning PM, Tony Blair) to get through a tough and forever memorable week in British history.
Apart from the dazzling performances from Mirren, Sheen and James Cromwell – as Prince Phillip – the film, though admittedly moving at times and quite humorous, feels all rather quaint by the end. The documentary style with archive footage and docu-stylised camerawork gives you a rather funny feeling about the whole affair.
It isn’t a sweeping and glorious biography, neither is it a simple version of events. It gives you a peek behind the gilded curtain into the Queen’s private life, contrasting with the glimpses behind the PM’s decidedly much grubbier curtain, into his home life – washing dishes and all. It feels almost like a TV documentary, or possibly like a feed from a spy-cam that is venturing into lives that should be left alone. Towards the end the strange doc-style feeling does wear off, to an extent, but there is always a lingering sense that the whole thing is some awful TV show.

Marvellous performances led by a matriarchal Helen Mirren lend the film numerous plaudits; if only the whole piece didn’t feel like a TV documentary would this biography hit the dizzy heights it aspires to.



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