Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"The Queen", Part Two: An Interim Assessment

It's late and I've only just finished the first viewing, but my initial impressions are good. I'll need to watch both commentary tracks before I make my final verdict, though I doubt that'll shift it much. As pop culture, of course, it's spot on. As history... Well, no movie ever shows history well, nor can it be expected to. Film is glib; in that way, it's the ideal pop cultural medium.

History is deep, and as such, this movie works best as just one piece of many covering the death of Diana. Of course, Helen Mirren is amazing, as is Michael Sheen, who plays Tony Blair. The rest of the cast seem afraid to impersonate, and so don't come quite as close. The star of the film, though, is Diana, as elusive a figure here as she was omnipresent in life.

The screenwriter, Peter Morgan, has done much to draw the Queen and Blair together, namely by giving each of them a crass, borderline loathsome spouse. The Duke of Edinburgh, of course, is blunt to the point of callous and always has been; Cherie Blair could well sue Stephen Frears for libel, except that I suspect her portrayal is the most accurate of them all.

It's a handsome film: well-paced, beautifully photographed, and features expertly used documentary footage intercut with the narrative, making for a poignant, resonant remembrance. It celebrates not only the legacy of Diana and the resilience of the Queen, but interestingly the promise shown by Tony Blair before corruption and scandal got the better of his idealism.

Imagine... A Labour Prime Minister, of all people, saving the monarchy from itself. If I hadn't seen it with my own two eyes I'd have never believed it.
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1 comment:

lcdseattle said...

I'm glad you liked it. I've wanted to see it and hit myself a few times for missing it at the theater. Now I'm just waiting for it to show up on On Demand.