Reel Reviews | The Queen

by Tim Gordon

Several years ago, Jamie Foxx donned a pair of dark shades and delivered one of the best performances ever captured in the biopic, Ray. Too paraphrase Snoop Dogg, Helen Mirren drops it like it’s hot as Elizabeth II in The Queen. Not only did she win the Best Actor Golden Globe for this performance, she also won the television equivalent playing Elizabeth I in the HBO mini-series.

The film covers one of the most turbulent weeks in her monarchy that began with the death of Princess Diana in a car crash in Paris. Meanwhile the Queen struggles presenting the proper tone to the people of England. Should she keep a stiff upper lip, with business as usual or should she take a more personal approach?

With the help of newly elected Prime Minister (Michael Sheen), he persuades the Queen that she must reconnect with the people and by doing so it could make the grieving process easier for the entire nation.

Every element of this film works fabulously which starts with Mirren’s extraordinary performance. For people who don’t have an opportunity to observe the inner workings of the monarchy, director Stephen Frears’ film possesses a documentary feel. He gets wonderful supporting performances from Sheen, James Cromwell (Prince Phillip), and Helen McCrory (Cherie Blair).

Mirren brings a quiet dignity and elegant restraint to her performance that is unmatched by any actress in film this year. That’s quite an achievement considering both Dame Judi Dench (Notes on a Scandal) and the incomparable Meryl Streep (The Devil Wears Prada) were both equally brilliant on-screen last year; still Mirren reigns supreme.

With a witty and introspective script, The Queen ultimately soars. One of the best scenes in the film is The Queen taking a ride on her property, only to experience trouble with her vehicle. While quietly surveying the view, she encounters a deer that holds her gaze and then, poof, he’s gone. We like that deer continue to be impressed with her consistent artistry. Besides, isn’t that what royalty is all about?

Grade: A-