would it be too obvious to say that mirren is the gem in the queen's crown? it's no secret that the smock's favorite films are true character studies, and i promise that the queen is just that. a very keen, sometimes scathing, study of human behavior, and proper manners in particular.
the opening scene shows the queen posing for a royal portrait. this scene tells it all. to fulfill her obligation, she must sit ... and sit still. when the painter asks her how she would vote, were she allowed to ... she gives a very telling answer.
duty. honor. valor. you would be hard pressed to find many audience members under the age of, oh let's be generous and say thirty-five, who could even define these terms, much less point them out as virtues. which is what makes this movie so poignant. poor queen elizabeth, her entire life devoted to standing in persona britannia, faces the awesome conundrum of being an individual, a lone human being, in the eyes of her subjects while remaining faithful to centuries of protocol.
to our surprise, the hero of the film turns out to be none other than the mister tony blair (played by michael sheen). who knew the man was so in touch with political correctness and fashionable display of feelings? i mean, the man came off as a "care bear" in a suit and tie. as the flowers and letters of sympathy (and in some cases bile aimed at the royals) pile up outside the palace gates, it's up to the brand-spanking-new prime minister to save the day by convincing the queen that the death of diana -- if not handled with politically correct gloves -- could be the death of the monarchy itself.
there are surprisingly few moments in the film when we are allowed to glimpse the queen's frailty, the photo above depicting one of them, but enough to make kleenex a necessity. of course, there are also moments when the film turns a dash cheeky old bloke, taking more than a few digs at prince phillip and the queen mum; but all in all, i'm happy to report that the film remains respectful of the queen and blair. mamaT and smock both agree it's a must see film. and helen mirren's performance is, in a word, regal.