Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Queen

The Queen (Stephen Frears, 2006) [6]
I have the belief that sometimes a great performance of an actor or actress can sometimes obscure the flaws of the film in general, my feelings about Zooey Deschanel in Winter Passing for example. Helen Mirren's performance as Queen Elizabeth in Stephen Frears' much lauded docudrama plays the same way for me. It is a little surprising to see such a restrained, inward performance such as the one Mirren gives receive so many awards since the Academy especially seems to award over the top performances. This film clearly rests on Mirren's shoulders and she completely carries it to being watchable. Her turn as Elizabeth never borders on mimicry; it goes well beyond that as she embodies both royal stoicness but all the while letting little pools of her character's real emotions bubble up. The issue for me is that there's nothing much anywhere else in this film that rises to Mirren's level. The rest of the royal family is portrayed as less than assertive or downright clownish; James Cromwell as Price Phillip gets some points on the unintentional comedy scale. I think why I don't like this that much is that it is essentially dealing with a subject that I could care less about. Frears and screenwriter Peter Morgan take a media-saturated event and dissect even more, making a discourse on the role of the monarchy in the modern world, how out of touch they became with Britain over Diana, and how the young, charismatic Tony Blair came to save the day as well as to be there to re-enforce that Britons still love their Queen. I say, so what? That doesn't mean the film doesn't have some merit. But it rests squarely on Helen Mirren's shoulders.

No comments: