2006 Oscar Nominees - The Queen
| Stephen Frears is one of those directors who goes along quietly making one good movie after the next. The Queen is no exception.
He doesn’t have the name recognition of a Scorsese or a Tarantino and he doesn’t restrict himself to a certain, unmistakeable style like a Luhrmann or a Tony Scott. Instead he has brought us films as different and as good as Dangerous Liasons, The Grifters, The Snapper, High Fidelity, Dirty Pretty Things and Mrs. Henderson Presents. Sure there was Dustin Hoffman’s Hero in there but no one’s perfect.
The Queen is a totally different animal. This is an intimate character study of someone we all know and can’t know. Frears tackles this paradox with elegance and wit. The film is insightful and funny, personal and political. It treats its subject with reverence and humanity. Liz is a human being and this seems, more than anything, to be the message of the piece.
The characters around her aren’t really all that human. Her grandchildren are never really seen. Diana is only a ghost looming in the background (or as the elephant in the room). Charles is a bit snivelly and Phillip is a downright villain. Blair gets the most screen time but he’s treated with kid gloves. Interesting to remember how popular he once was…
The only problem I had with the film is that despite how interesting I found its musings on the issues raised by the death of Diana and the whole Royal situation, I kept being reminded that that’s all they are; musings. None of this is real. No one was there to witness the supposed role each actor played. Well, no one working on this film. I could speculate about these people too, that doesn’t make it real. This kept pulling me out of the film and unfortunately diminished its effect.
However, Mirren helps to make up for that. Her portrayal is masterful in what must be an incredibly difficult role. How to play the humanity and emotion of a woman trained not to be? She is magnificent in that way that only certain actors have of playing modern day celebrities we all recognise. She gets under the skin, makes her real and doesn’t just mimic but makes us forget that it’s an actor we are watching and not the real person.
Okay, she’s no Scott Thompson but then again… who is?
As someone who is neither a monarchist or an abolitionist, The Queen got me thinking about the whole institution. I look forward to the Monica Lewinski movie which makes us question the value of a republic.