Monday, October 23, 2006

The Queen - Movie Review

A family drama about the death of an ex-family member that causes shock waves amongst the villagefolk, which baffles the matriarch of the family who saw her as nothing but a nuisance and betrayer of the family. Except the family is the Windsors, the ex is Diana, the villagefolk are the people of England AND the world, and the Matriarch is The Queen of England Elizabeth the 2nd.

Stephen Frears directs a fascinating inside look into the world of the English Royal family, particularly during the week following the death of the beloved People's Princess Diana when the world grieved, and The Queen (Helen Mirren) misunderstood the public's sentiment, despite the urgings of a newly elected Tony Blair (Michael Sheen).

As The Queen tries to deal with Diana's death as privately as possible, the publics outpouring of grief and tears demands a public response from the Royal Family which The Queen refuses to give, and thus the tension and battle emerges from Tony Blair and The Queens many handlers to convince her that the situation is unprecedented and demands differing protocol. Surprisingly, the movie emerges sympathetic to The Queen, who is shown as quite frugal and old fashioned, brought by her upbringing and early reign. The film though, despite the fact the world knows the story, almost plays in a way as suspense thriller as we wait for The Queen to come to realizing the emotional response Diana had upon the public and the responsibiliy the Royal Family now had to appeasing the public during that emotionally odd time.

As we have all heard by now, Helen Mirren is completely lost behind the role as Queen Elizabeth the 2nd and truly becomes her in all sense of the word (unlike Jamie Foxes' Ray which I felt was a bit of a characterization and always felt it was an actor playing Ray Charles). Michael Sheen does the same with Tony Blair, shown here as an everyday man who just happens to be the new prime-minister of England, and James Cromwell is a hoot as the dimwitted Prince Phillip.

Surpringsly moving for a docudrama, The Queen is a delicate family drama, a look into the private lives of a very public family during a time of unique consequences. The acting is first rate and pretty much a shoo-in for the Oscars. The only concern is, isn't the whole notion of this public movie about the Royal Family, a family betrayed by the very essence of the tabloids and the publics demanding interests into their private lives, a little... wrong? hypocritical? Still, the film is mesmerizing and one of the best of the year so far. Did I mention it is also a surprisingly funny movie?

9/10 or A-

1 comment:

redtown said...

The one character not developed in this film was that of Diana herself. Surely her mental history had much more impact on the Royal family than the film was able to present.

While the "people's princess" remains the icon of superficial popular culture, the Royals knew a very different, darker character behind the facades of glamour and pseudo-compassion.

Both Diana and her brother, Charles Spencer, suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder caused by their mother's abandoning them as young children.  A google search reveals that Diana is considered a case study in BPD by mental health professionals.

For Charles Spencer, BPD meant insatiable sexual promiscuity (his wife was divorcing him at the time of Diana's death). For Diana, BPD meant intense insecurity and insatiable need for attention and affection which even the best husband could never fulfill. 

Clinically, it's clear that the Royal family did not cause her "problems". Rather, Diana brought her multiple issues into the marriage, and the Royal family was hapless to deal with them.

Her illness, untreated, sowed the seeds of her fast and unstable lifestyle, and sadly, her tragic fate.

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