Rated PG-13; Directed by Stephen Frears; Starring Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen, James Cromwell, Sylvia Syms, Helen McCrory, Alex Jennings, Roger Allam
The Queen is feast for an Anglophile’s eyes. This imagined look at what happens behind the scenes of Britain’s Royal Family is a delight that brings both humor and heart to the struggles of an old-fashioned establishment facing the modern world of celebrity worship and the 24-hour news cycle. The movie also brings an Oscar®-worthy performance with Helen Mirren’s portrayal of Her Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth II.
The movie’s relationships are set up at the start. Young Tony Blair (Michael Sheen) wins the election for Prime Minister and is anxiously about to meet the Queen. The difference between Blair and the Queen is obvious – she’s not nervous at all. Well, why not? Blair is her tenth Prime Minister and as she so witheringly puts it, “Winston Churchill was my first.” Take that, Mr. Upstart Blair.
The relationship between Blair and the Queen is the main focus of the film. When Princess Diana dies the Queen’s views on tradition, propriety, and dealing with a tragedy is in marked difference to how the rest of the world reacts to Diana’s death. It is up to Blair to convince Elizabeth that the old ways will not work in this case.
Director Stephen Frears (My Beautiful Launderette, Mrs. Henderson Presents) and the script by Peter Morgan do something amazing: at the end we find ourselves in sympathy with Elizabeth. Having Helen Mirren play the Queen certainly helps. She makes Elizabeth more than a caricature. Mirren’s performance is a royal work of art.
Enjoy The Queen as this movie could end up with a nomination or two from the Academy Awards. Long live Helen Mirren as the Queen!