Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Queen - Stephen Frears

It is hard to write a negative review about a movie that received more than 25 major awards around the World, appeared in several Top 10 lists the year it was issued, and has a 97% approval rate in Rotten Tomatoes. And yet, I still think that The Queen is not the masterpiece everyone thinks it is. The acting of Michael Sheen as Tony Blair and Helen Mirren as Elizabeth II are remarkable, and Stephen Frears claims in The Making of that he had several sources close to both Blair and the Royal Family standing for the accuracy of the facts he portrays.

I think The Queen would be an excellent movie, worth of its 99.9% of approval rate, had the speech given by Elizabeth not been the focal point of the entire movie. Here is the original speech given by Elizabeth:

It would be excellent to compare the two speeches, but I was not able to find Helen Mirrens personification, so the trailer will have to do the trick.

Somehow, its hard for me to reconcile the iron lady image presented by Mirren with the fluffy lady who originally delivered the speech. I sometimes get the impression that Mirren got her inspiration for Elizabeth from the image presented in the pounds: a petrified character without the possibility to have any feelings whatsoever (to be fair, Mirren kind of cries in two or three moments of the movie).

I'm not saying that Elizabeth II is actually a nice old grandmother who felt any sympathy for Diana. It's no secret that they hated each other and the Queen is probably the iron person presented by Frears in private. I give him and his sources the benefit of the doubt. However,  Mirren was not able to represent the role of a nation's grandmother which Elizabeth was during the speech. She was not able to understand that she was not playing the role of the Queen playing the role of a fluffy venerable old lady.

I can only think of an actor who understood that she was not playing a character, but a character playing another character: Christopher Reeves. His performance as Superman trying to be a Clark Kent who hides Superman is simply superb.

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