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The Queen (2006)

Art House & International movie directed by Stephen Frears

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Basically average

  • Jun 19, 2007
Pros: Helen Mirren

Cons: Finally just not interesting

The Bottom Line: We all know the story, the film doesn't really add anything to what we already know.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot.

Not that this really matters, but I recently reviewed The Last King of Scotland which I said was average. However, the actor of the main character got an Oscar. Now I have just finished watching The Queen, whose main character won an Oscar. It is only slightly better.

We all know the principles—Elizabeth Regina, her mother Elizabeth, Queen’s Consort Prince Philip, Prince of Wales Charles, Prime Minister Tony Blair. Most of the events take place during the week between the death of Diana, Princess of Wales and her funeral. What makes the film worth watching in the first place isn’t the bio-pic nature of it really, but the informal moments for such formal people. Director Stephen Frears shows the queen wearing wellies and driving herself around Scotland in an ancient Range Rover. He shows us the Blairs at home with their children. That is how the film fills 100 minutes whose story is one we already know.

First off, I love Ms. Mirren. I own several movies that she has been in and seen most of the others (Teaching Mrs. Tingle being a notable exception). I admire her ability to play just about any role and am grateful that she didn’t insist on taking her clothes off for this film (anyone who knows her through the jokes and interviews will understand that). However, I cannot say that her performance here was stellar. It was good; it was consistent, but mainly it was dyspeptic. To be frank, if any actress purposefully ate several chili dogs before filming for the day, they would likely be able to play the role, even if those around her really wish she could find a better way to make a face that we all make before we get ready to belch but have to determine if something solid will follow the noise.

If you divide the movie into three acts, then the last one is the one worth watching. Act one is the discovery of the death and the decision that since Diana was no longer HRH, then nothing special need be done. Act two is PM Blair trying to explain to Elizabeth Regina that it is in her and the monarchy’s best interest to do something other than walk around Scotland in her wellies. Act three is recognition of this and a subtle thaw in the face that duty made permanent (which means for a lesser actress, one fewer chili dog).

The movie belongs to Ms. Mirren and Michael Sheen (PM Blair) and to a lesser extent Elizabeth the Queen Mum (Sylvia Syms) who most definitely represents the monarchy of old. Almost anyone else could be replaced with CGI or a puppet and I don’t think anyone would notice. James Cromwell did everything in his power to matter, but since Prince Philip doesn’t matter, he was fighting not only the film but history. He does a good job of being a foolish old man who has to walk 3 paces behind his wife and sovereign in public. I feel for him until he opens his mouth, then I wonder why Elizabeth Windsor didn’t just pull a Henry and behead the dolt.

Ms. Mirren is the oldest recipient of the Actress in a Leading Role Oscar since Geraldine Page got it about a hundred years ago. I applaud Hollywood for recognizing that older women can act and some do it far better than the younger ones (it is easier to emote and remember your lines when you eat enough to do so). Still, I have to wonder why.

I expected both royal films (The Queen and The Last King of Scotland) to surpass Notes on a Scandal which got almost no attention, but did get Oscar nods. Neither royal film really matters in the long run. Both are essentially forgettable. However, Notes is real storytelling real acting and real drama. Each of the royal films were based on real things but both failed to deliver more than just average entertainment when taken in toto.

As I said about the Amin flick I also say about this one: it is average, but not more than that—go in with few expectations and maybe it will measure up.


Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older

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More The Queen (2006 movie) reviews
Quick Tip by . January 17, 2011
I'd highly recommend this for anyone interested in England. Excellent acting and very interesting insight into the attitude of the Royal family.
review by . September 09, 2009
   I went to this movie on a date expecting it to put me to sleep.  Boy was I ever wrong!  This movie could have easily won best picture too.  It was so well made and Helen Mirren’s performance as Queen Elizabeth was not overstated.  She definitely deserved the award she won.  The movie focuses on the death of Princess Diana and how the Royal family behaved during the period immediately after.   The movie portrayed Elizabeth as someone who stuck to tradition …
Quick Tip by . August 30, 2009
The Queen stars Academy-Award winner Helen Mirren- depicts the sudden death of Princess Diana, Mirren excellent, great ambience, boring film
review by . March 06, 2009
I went to this movie on a date expecting it to put me to sleep. Boy was I ever wrong! This movie could have easily won best picture too. It was so well made and Helen Mirren's performance as Queen Elizabeth was not overstated. She definitely deserved the award she won. The movie focuses on the death of Princess Diana and how the Royal family behaved during the period immediately after.     The movie portrayed Elizabeth as someone who stuck to tradition (heavily influenced by …
review by . February 08, 2009
This film details Queen Elizabeth's (Helen Mirren) reaction to Princess Diana's death and her relationship with new Prime Minister Tony Blair (Michael Sheen). As Elizabeth clearly dislikes the Princess and finds her death just one more in a series of irritations, she wants to keep the mourning and funeral of her former daughter-in-law private. Blair, however, thinks that would harm the monarchy in the eyes of the people who loved Diana, and urges the queen to go to London to speak publicly.    M …
review by . November 17, 2008
This movie brings back memories   With every touching scene   That followed from the day Di died   And how this hurt the Queen     The Queen had planned for silent grief   The outcry had her stunned   She never dreamed that tradition   Would cause her to be shunned     Diana's death came as a shock   And as events unfurled   The people were demanding   That the Queen …
review by . November 01, 2008
The Queen
The movie starts with a blip over the election of Tony Blair to Prime Minister, and quickly skips forward to the horrible day that Princess Diana died. Caught in all the media frenzy is Queen Elizabeth II, not a fan of Diana to begin with. The Queen wishes to keep the royal family's mourning private, but the public outcry for closure forces her to come out of her privacy shell, return to the palace from their country estate, and make a public statement.     The movie provided …
review by . December 09, 2007
I hadn't read much about the film before renting it so I wasn't sure what to expect.     The film covers a few short months in the lives of the Royal family beginning at the election of Tony Blair and ending two months after Diana's death.    The plot is slow moving. Don't expect action. Quiet moments of discussion between the Queen and different family or staff members fills the majority of the film.     Interspersed between newscast reports …
review by . November 19, 2007
The last 20 years has seen a growing Hollywood infatuation with English history, especially that concerning the crown. Examples included "Elizabeth", "Shakespeare in Love", "Braveheart", and now "The Queen". The last takes place in the present, the 1990's specifically, and chronicles the personal experience of the royal family after the death of Diana. The story is told from multiple points of view, with the Queen and Tony Blair being the two main protagonists. He is in touch with the British people; …
review by . July 22, 2007
If the DVD sold here is like the DVDs sold elsewhere, there is some clever trick done to prevent the purchaser from backing up the DVD using some of the existing DVD ripping software that is out there. I suspect they intentionally degrade the quality of the disc such that it cannot be read bit-by-bit by ripping software. You probably don't care about backing up the DVD, given the questionable legality of it, but the problem is that the way they do this renders the DVD unplayable on many players. …
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Paul Savage ()
Ranked #57
I name and describe everything and classify most things. If 'it' already had a name, the one I just gave it is better.
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About this movie


Helen Mirren reigns supreme inThe Queen, a witty and ingenious look at a moment that rocked the house of Windsor: the week that followed the sudden death of Princess Diana in 1997. Diana's death came at just the same time that Prime Minister Tony Blair (played by the bright Michael Sheen) was settling into his new government--and trying to figure out the delicate relationship between 10 Downing Street and Queen Elizabeth II (Mirren). A large portion of the British population was trying to figure out the Windsors that week, as Elizabeth remained stiff-upper-lip and largely mum about the death of the beloved princess. In Peter Morgan's skillful script, we watch as Blair grows increasingly impatient with the Royals, who are sequestered in their Scottish estate while the public demands some show of grief. Prince Philip (James Cromwell, in good form) clumsily decides to take Diana's sons hunting, while a sympathetically-treated Prince Charles (Alex Jennings) displays some frustration with his mother's eerie calm.

None of this conveys how funny the film is, or how deftly it flows from one scene to the next. Director Stephen Frears (Dirty Pretty Things) deserves great credit for that, and for the performances, and for the movie's marvelous sense of well-roundedness; you could see this movie and groan at the cluelessness of the Royals and their outmoded existence, or you might just sympathize with showing reserve in a world that values gross public displays of ...

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Director: Stephen Frears
Genre: Drama
Release Date: 2006
MPAA Rating: PG-13
DVD Release Date: April 24, 2007
Runtime: 103 minutes
Studio: Miramax
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