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Article

The Queen

Posted on

Laurie Sparham

The Queen

type:
Movie
Current Status:
In Season
mpaa:
PG-13
runtime:
104 minutes
Limited Release Date:
09/30/06
performer:
Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen, James Cromwell, Sylvia Syms
director:
Stephen Frears
distributor:
Miramax
author:
Peter Morgan
genre:
Drama

We gave it a B

It’s a relief to hear director Stephen Frears and screenwriter Peter Morgan, during their commentary for The Queen, talk about the movie in a breezy, pleasantly jaded manner — for example, describing a scene in which Helen Mirren’s Queen Elizabeth II grips a phone with her little finger held just so as ”impeccable pinkie acting.” Their comments take out some of the hot air that inevitably inflates any Oscar-winning British film about a serious subject.

Like the HBO project Elizabeth I, Mirren’s other recent award-winning vehicle, The Queen is really just a well-done TV-movie-level biopic. We’re offered the comfort of a familiar story (the varying reactions to Princess Diana’s death by the Royal Family and the Tony Blair government), some striking images — such as the Queen encountering a regal stag — and a few insidery details (Frears notes that a moment when Mirren’s Queen meticulously arranges the pens on her desk came from the actress — she had heard that Her Majesty has an OCD-like compulsion to do so).

The DVD features a standard making-of documentary and a breathless second commentary by ”historical consultant” Robert Lacey, but Frears and Morgan’s astringent track is the one to listen to. After the memorable moment when a little girl outside Buckingham Palace hands the Queen flowers while grown women curtsy and simper, Morgan comments that a life spent enduring such behavior must ”make you want to dive into a bottle of vodka.”

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