The Queen review by Juli Yuli

The Queen covers a very small period in time; just a few days following Princess Diana's death in 1997, with the exception of a few flashes of Tony Blair's first days in office. The story is as much about Queen Elizabeth II as it is about Tony Blair, and his growth as a new young Prime Minister.

The film begins with Tony Blair's (Michael Sheen) first official one-on-one meeting with the queen. The awkwardness of that first interaction between the informal and alive Mr. and Mrs. Blair and stiff formal queen is directed and played superbly and sets the often humorous tone for the film.

Young, ambitious, and armed with his personal skills and an excellent PR team, Tony Blair manages to become a hero in Britain's eyes by mourning over Diana's death with the public and calling her "The People's Princess". At the same time, he becomes a nuisance in the Windsors' lives, calling Queen Elizabeth (Helen Mirren) several times a day, disrupting their orderly, dry family life, and daring to give advice to the queen. Given that the film was released in 2006, with Iraq War crushing Tony Blair's popularity, the irony in the film is excellent, with Helen Mirren's character reminding the young ambitious Prime Minister at the end of the film :"One day you are on top, the other on the bottom. You never know which morning you will wake up and your people will suddenly hate you."

As the film progresses, Tony Blair's opinion of Queen Elizabeth changes. He stops mocking her with his staff and actually starts defending her ways of handling Diana's death. He suddenly begins to understand her. And only then is he able to convince her to return to London and face the millions of people who are parked and mourning outside Buckingham Palace.

The dialogue as written, directed (by Stephen Frears) and acted is what makes the film. Never boring, often funny, it surprisingly engages you, even though the subject seems to be so dry. I had mixed expectations going into this film. Though having seen and loved Helen Mirren in several films such as Gosford Park, Calendar Girls, Greenfingers, I was not sure how she could make an entertaining film out of such boring subject. But the film is NEVER boring, there isn't s single dull moment, and none of the dialogues drag on. Every moment Helen Mirren walks, talks, frowns, or raises her eye brows, it's like watching a documentary of Queen Elizabeth.

What I enjoyed even more than the dialogue, were the scenes in the film that showed Windsors' family life as ordinary people. How they live in their retreat in Scotland, is just like any other family. No bodyguards are shown. The queen drives the family jeep in her rubber boots through the Scotland wilderness and, when her car breaks down, actually gets under, and tries to fix the problem before calling one of the servants and mentioning exactly what the problem is. The queen sets the tables and opens tupperware to feed her family during the picnic in a cold rainy day. For me, these scenes were essential to the film, as they showed no matter how dry, dull, and stiff Windsors appear, they are a family, and like to lead regular lives when they can. The Queen, never really emotional and always stoic throughout the film, at a breaking point finds herself at her mother's bedroom door knocking: "Mommy?". She is now a little girl asking her mother for advice in this out of control situation.

The film is not about Diana in any way. There is in fact quite a bit of documentary footage of Diana shown in the film; but it is present to demonstrate the contrast between public and private, the life in the public by Diana, and the efforts of the Windsors (at least Elizabeth, Phillip, and Charles) to keep their lives as private as possible.

Whether true or not, this film is a positive image campaign for Elizabeth and her family. Whether she has seen it or not, she should thank Stephen Frears, Peter Morgan, the writer, and Helen Mirren for humanizing her in every way.

9 out of 10 Jackasses
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