Helen Mirren is one of my favorites. She is such an accomplished, versatile actress. She can do comedy, tragedy or anything in between. In The Queen she has the opportunity to sort of run the gamut. This film is a comedy/tragedy. Mirren's startling portrayal of Queen Elizabeth seems to accurately reflect the controversial standing of the "Royals." Are they necessary? Are they outdated and overpaid? As a frustrated Tony Blair (Michael Sheen) states in the film, "Who do these people think they are?"

The film takes place within the space of one week. The week that Princess Diana died. At first the Royals all but want to ignore the incident. Why should she get a state funeral? She no longer is an "HRH." The film makes it appear the Royals do not understand Diana's popularity with the people. It is up to Blair to convince them. Referring to Diana he coins the phrase, "the people's Princess." Ultimately he must literally order the Queen to acknowledge Diana's death and to visit the place where people have placed thousands of flower bouquets. Gradually the Queen is brought to realize that she is endangering the monarchy with her attitude.

The film of course is a work of fiction, written by Peter Morgan who also wrote the highly praised The Last King of Scotland. It is an unusual film because not many films have attempted to portray a sitting monarchy as this one does. Mirren has excellent support from Michael Sheen as Tony Blair. Sheen has now portrayed Blair twice. He, like Mirren, bears a remarkable physical resemblance to the real thing. One of the attractions of the film is that it gives one a delicious sense of eavesdropping on what goes on in the very private world of the monarchy. How accurate this portrayal is is debatable, but it certainly has a ring of truthfulness.

The other question some may have is why should we care about these people? What have they really accomplished? Should Diana be as venerated as she is? What did she really do to deserve this standing? Certainly she had "movie star" looks much in the same way as JFK, Jr. Some are asking the same question about him. What did he really do to deserve his status and subsequent period of national mourning? Why haven't we seen a movie about his life? Don't hold your breath, it's probably in the works.






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