Saturday, January 16, 2010

Day 315: The Queen (2006 ) - Rank 4/5


Stephen Frears is a wonderfully versatile director whose films range from the comic ("Mrs. Henderson Presents," "High Fidelity") to the positively dark ("Dirty Pretty Things"). In this venture, he takes a more objective, though poignant, look at a pivotal moment in a nation's history, not unlike Ron Howard's "Frost/Nixon." The moment he centers on is the death of Princess Diana, but rather than focus on recreating the accident and trying to lay blame, the grief that came in the wake of the activist's demise is at the heart of the film, with an examination of Queen Elizabeth II in particular (natch).

Helen Mirren is positively uncanny as Queen Elizabeth II, her Oscar more than earned. Her portrayal reflects the difficult decisions that the matriarch was faced with after Diana's death. Granted, whether it was necessary for her to address the death or not was an issue, but it was merely the tip of the iceberg. Her main obstacle is the shift of the English people to more modern outlooks to life while she stands by the tried and true attitudes of the monarchy, only to find that such a path alienates her from her people to the point that they see her as villainous as the paparazzi photographers responsible for the accident. The film would actually act as a decent companion piece with "The Life and Times of Colonel Blimp," for both have a similar theme and tone. Each is centered around a character whose principals reflect the British ideals and principles long held over generations. However, the resolution is very different, for where "Colonel Blimp" encourages audience members to embrace British traditions of chivalry, reserve and other "respectable behaviors," "The Queen" makes more of a push for the need to adapt the old to the new, rather than dogmatically holding on to the past.

Watch the Trailer

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