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Mrs. Brown

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This conjectural account of the sedately passionate, maybe platonic relationship between the widowed Queen Victoria and her faithful manservant John Brown was co-produced by WGBH/Mobil Masterpiece Theatre. And it looks it, especially on the small screen: beautifully acted (with one key exception, see below), sumptuously designed, and too often stiff-upper-lip dull. Dench’s Oscar-nominated performance as Her Grieving Majesty is superb, a concerto of repressed gestures and tremulous glances; unfortunately, her expert professionalism makes Connolly’s blustery, strident work as Brown look inept by comparison. Mrs. Brown is worth renting, but you somehow feel as though you should be watching it in a classroom instead of your living room. B-

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