I can look up all the superlatives to describe Helen Mirren‘s tour-de-force performance as the British monarch in The Queen, but it wouldn’t do her justice. It was simply a class act.
Without her there would have been no movie. Indeed the “an episode in the reign of Queen Elizabeth II” angle of the movie suited the Stephen Frears’ personal character sketch. Mirren fitted it to a tee and went on to dominate the whole movie with her masterful performance.
So much so, that it dwarfed the explosive events that provided the setting, and absolutely none of the cast came close to stealing her scenes, with the exception perhaps of Michael Sheen as Prime Minister Tony Blair delivering an ultimatum during the politically-stormy few days after Princess Diana’s death.
Set in a period spanning a few months, The Queen had a docu-drama feel of events unfolding rapidly, and its pace was quick except for the scenes with Mirren in them.
Thankfully so, since I would not have overlooked the weak, spineless caricature of Prince Charles (was that intentional?) by Alex Jennings. If it was an attempt at satire, heheh…it was inaccurate nevertheless. Jennings’ performance reminded me more of Greg Kinnear than it did Prince Charles.
James Cromwell was passably effective in portraying Prince Phillip as an annoying, impatient, snooty royal but no one else stood out.
Perhaps it was intentional of Frears to shine the spotlight on the Windsors during the crisis, with special emphasis the monarch’s personal side. What it did for me was to reaffirm my respect for a character actress who demonstrates strength, resilience and iron will with effortless grace.
Bravura performance. Watch it for Helen Mirren alone.