Tonight I saw The Queen starring Helen Mirren and James Cromwell.
As the brits would say, it was "spot on."
This movie chronicles the actions of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in the days following Princess Diana's death and how the input of those around her supposedly did (and didn't) play a role in her response.
First, let me say that I understand why Ms. Mirren has generated so much Oscar buzz. Having grown up enamored with the drama of the royal family, I've watched the real queen all my life and studied her mannerisms. Seeing this film, I forgot I was watching Helen Mirren.
From the way she folds her glasses to her less-than-feminine walk, this woman has Her Majesty down.
The brilliance of her work however, was really in the supressed emotion that she conveyed—bubbling beneath the surface, yet refined and crisp in the presence of everyone except for a wandering stag, which she tenderly tries to save. I won't be angry if this actress takes the statue come March.
And the others weren't so bad either.
James Cromwell is perfectly cast as Prince Philip—bitter and irritable, always throwing in his two cents. And Alex Jennings as Charles is cowardly and awkward, even while trying to do the right thing as the actual Prince of Wales so often appears.
Michael Sheen, who portrays Tony Blair, is a little over-the-top and doesn't possess the real charm of the actual Prime Minister, but does an ample job of at least sounding like the man he's trying to imitate.
The writing is superb in that you can't bear to take sides as the crises unfolds.
In 1997, I was disgusted as many 'Diana fans' were, that the royal family didn't immediately fly the flag at half mast or make a public statement regarding the tragedy. But after seeing this, I'm left with mixed emotions.
While the silence of the queen was undoubtedly inappropriate, I no longer think it was because of any disdain she had for her former daughter-in-law. I think it was because she is a woman of duty and she believed her job was to remain strong.
In the end, she did the right thing by finally giving in to her advisers (in the movie it's implied it was mostly Blair and his team; I have to wonder in reality how true that was), but the damage she did to the reputation of the Monarchy may never be repaired.
Seeing the actual footage of Diana spliced in with the fictional reinactment gave it an eerie "I'm watching you" vibe, which quite frankly gave me goosebumps.
If only Her Majesty had realized the magic her grandsons' mother had with people while she was still alive, she may have reacted differently.