by Tommy Rocco
Steven Frear’s "The Queen," a moving and often funny tragedy, portrays the indoctrination of Tony Blair as Labor Prime Minister through the untimely death of Princess Diana Spencer from the Royal Family’s point of view.
Helen Mirren plays Queen Elizabeth II with style and grace. Straightforward and often unknowingly witty, Mirren may well have equaled her performance in Tom Hooper’s miniseries "Elizabeth I." We also get brilliant performances from Michael Sheen as Tony Blair and James Cromwell as Prince Philip.
This may be the first film I’ve seen that attempts to portray the emotions of living political figures so intimately, and the relationships between them. What we get is a fictional portrayal of figures in their "natural habitat" we see so often on the news waving to large crowds. Not to be taken as the gospel truth, this film does its job. It reveals the paradox of a monarch who is purely a figurehead, having power that appears to be just for show, struggling with her own grief as well as the reaction expected of her by her people.
Peter Morgan, who also wrote "The Last King of Scotland" and "Henry VIII," has truly captured the natural humor of the British that crops up from their reserved way of life. He has also made it abundantly clear that our protagonist, Queen Elizabeth II, is more an image of what her people make her than what she truly is.
I recommend this film to anyone who appreciates good, solid performances by great actors. "The Queen" opens at the Regal Green Hills 16 in Nashville and at the Regal Downtown West in Knoxville on Friday, Nov. 3. It also opens in Chattanooga at the Bijou 7 on Friday, Nov. 10.