Last night, Kristen and I watched 'The Queen', a film which will be best remembered for garnering Helen Mirren the 2007 Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role.
Quite an interesting film. It's always interesting for me to see a movie based on events that I actually remember, because the images in the film are laid over my own recollections and reactions, and this makes a film deeply personal.
Helen Mirren was good. Was she "great," a word that is much over-used? In my opinion, no. But in this case, "good" is good enough. To qualify for "great" status, I think one of two things would have to have occurred: the role and script would have had to call for something other than a pretty flat delivery, which they did not; or we would have had to know the real queen a bit better, so that we could have formed an educated judgment of just how well she was captured on screen. We know so little about the private life of Queen Elizabeth II that I don't think we can ever know how accurately she was played by Mirren. Mirren was convincing, however, and so her sturdy performance was definitely worthy of recognition. Was it the best of the year? Of that I'm unconvinced.
As for the casting, I think the roles of Tony Blair (Michael Sheen) and Prince Philip (James Cromwell) were both portrayed as well as that of the Queen. The portrayal of Prince Charles (Alex Jennings) left something to be desired, but then in my humble opinion, Charles is a man with a lot left to be desired.
What I can say with some certainty is that it's unfair to judge the life of the Queen on the sliver of her reign that covered the death of Lady Diana. The movie is excellent; but to call it 'The Queen' as if it is comprehensive or even representative of the character and disposition of the woman who has occupied the English throne for half a century is unfortunate. Sudden deaths, especially when complicated by the layers of intrigue, deceit, betrayal and hysteria that surrounded Diana's life and death, can never be expected to bring out the best in those still breathing. I hope to someday see a more sweeping film based on this queen's life, something akin to what we have seen on the lives of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth I.