Helen Mirren, a royal ruler in turmoil

Helen Mirren, a royal ruler in turmoil


The advent of Elizabeth II coincided with that of television: in 1953, her coronation was one of the first cathodic festivals in the planetary village. And here is the famous cinema, with humor, severity and acuity, the catastrophe that marked the long reign of the daughter of George VI.

The Queenby Stephen Frears, meticulously chronicled the week from Sunday 31 August to Saturday 6 September 1997, of the death of Lady Diana Spencer in Paris at her funeral in Westminster Basilica. Helen Mirren She plays the role of the Sovereign and her work earned her the Volpi Cup for Best Actress in Venice in 2006 and the Oscar in 2007.

Also read: Helen Mirren quite royal

Opposition with Tony Blair

You have to see the film to measure its richness. First of all, it depends on the intelligence of the script Peter Morgan, which combines the sly curiosity of contemporary journalists with the psychological solidity of the great Victorian novelists. He pays the same attention, both scrupulously and passionately, to his characters. Stephen Frears’ unobtrusive staging uses the sets (the old-fashioned pomp of Balmoral’s Scottish Castle and the Blair family’s chaotic 10th Downing Street interior) to stage the film’s fundamental opposition, between a woman, the queen, who is the product of history, and a man, Tony Blair, who invented himself with the help of a few advisers.

The impeccable distribution does justice to this complexity. The royal family is painted without excess of charity: Prince Philip of Edinburgh (James Cromwell) is an insensitive ganache who drags his grandchildren to a deer beat to make them forget their mother’s death; Prince Charles (Alex Jennings), both sensitive and helpless to his parents, tries to find an ally in the person of Tony Blair (Michael Sheen), and the Queen Mother (Sylvia Syms) proves that gin keeps but does not hardly develops the love of others.

In Downing Street, Tony Blair, who has just been elected, has not finished taking on his role. Sheen manages to decipher the Blair mystery, this mixture of greed and seduction, Catholic goodwill and ruthless ambition.

This gallery of beautifully drawn figures only makes perfect sense with the brilliance of the royal performance. A priori, one would have hesitated to elevate Elizabeth II to the dramatic rank held, by Shakespeare interposed, by her great (and indirect) ancestors, from Henry II to Richard III.

Peter Morgan may not be Shakespeare, but Helen Mirren is well worth her royal predecessors, from Garrick to Laurence Olivier. She highlights the battleships her character has surrounded herself with throughout her life as a monarch, to strip her of them in an even more moving sequence as Stephen Frears has so far handled his feelings with a restrained more than British, preferring humor and irony.

The Queen, film by Stephen Frears (UK, 2006, 99 min). With Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen, James Cromwell.

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