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The Queen

May 8, 2013

The Queen (2006)
Director: Stephen Frears
Actors: Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen, Alex Jennings

The Queen

Synopsis: The aloofness of The Queen (Helen Mirren) and the Royal Family comes under strong public scrutiny in the aftermath of Princess Diana’s death.

Review: Considering the sheer sensationalism and never-fading topicality of the film’s subject matter – the death of Princess Diana, which was arguably the most purely dramatic British news story this side of WW2 – it’s surprising how tame and incurious Stephen Frears’ documentation of the aftermath of her death on the Royal Family (and the Queen in particular) actually is.

If anything, Frears is merely presenting a lazy pastiche of the events. He seems content in procuring a few cheap laughs at the recreation of the early, confident months of the Blair reign, and in fawning at Helen Mirren’s technically accurate appropriation of The Queen. What’s bizarre is that Frears shows a completing misunderstanding of his film’s grammar – descending into an almost gratuitous recreation of Princess Diana’s last few moments, even showing mawkish video footage of her as a child, as if this were a genre piece – when in reality, the film is not about Diana, her tragic death is the mere hook to probe the moment where the Monarchy’s self-styled mystique and aloofness finally appeared glaringly inappropriate to the mood of the nation.

Of course, the film’s central narrative dilemma is ultimately predicated on whether one finds the duty/responsibility/privilege (call it what you will) of a hereditary monarch, innately sympathetic, and sadly I never have, although I don’t think this film does the Queen any favours in trying to win over Republicans anyway. (May 2013)

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