So today is the second part of the Stephen Frears Blair trilogy with The Queen, focusing on Tony Blair’s relationship with Queen Elizabeth the Second. This is the one that I had the most trepidation going into since this was the only one of the three to get a cinema release and as such, it feels like the filmmakers believed that this was the best one. In my opinion, whilst The Deal is the better film and the one that should have received a cinema release, this is still a brilliant film.
The plot concerns the reaction to the death of Princess Diana in 1997 by the royal family and the way that they are seen to be out of touch with the general population regarding Diana, with a lot of this conflict personified in the mind of the royals by recently elected PM Tony Blair, seen as the great moderniser, who is constantly calling on the royals to do something to please the public and make them not look like out-of-touch, heartless people, whilst having to deal with the issue regarding Diana’s official status considering that she was not a member of the royal family when she died. What I like about the film is the way in which the relationship between Blair and the Queen is set out. It opens with Blair being granted permission by the Queen to form a government, which is something that I’m baffled still has to happen, and continues on through the conversations that Blair has over the reaction to Princess Diana’s death. All of these conversations show just how out of touch the royal family is to the rest of the country, mainly by them wanting the flowers outside Buckingham Palace removed and the flag over Buckingham Palace not only not being at half mast but not being up period. This all shows how the general public started to turn against the royals, to the point that 1/4 of the population wanted to see the monarchy abolished (something that I am very much in favour of) and the way in which the royals were able to turn their situation around could only have come about through the work Blair did. This gives a great insight into the relationship between Blair and the Queen and into the changing nature of the relationship between the royals and the public created as a result of Diana.
The performances are top notch. Helen Mirren brings this great deal of dignity to the Queen with this really hard exterior that she presents to Blair at first, indicating that she is not someone who should be messed with. She also brings this sense of regret and pain over the whole situation, whilst also showing this great deal of stress that is bound to happen if you are a head of state. Michael Sheen meanwhile is as excellent as Blair here as he was in The Deal, however this time, he has more of a gentle quality, showing his sympathy for the royal family along with his desire for the public to mourn Diana. James Cromwell as Prince Phillip is perfect casting, he nails Phillip’s voice and the mannerisms that we see in public (although I personally wanted to see some of Phillip’s casual racism in there) whilst Alex Jennings brings across this great sense of grief as Prince Charles. There are also good performances by Helen McCrory as Cherie Blair, Roger Allam as Robin Janvrin and Mark Bazeley as Alastair Campbell with Bazeley bringing across the media savvy perception of Campbell, along with the ruthlessness that Campbell was known for.
Overall, The Queen is a really good film. Whilst I don’t think it’s as good as The Deal, mainly since some of the details, like the reaction to Diana’s funeral (the actual ceremony, not the planning), didn’t play into the film as prominently as they should have, the strong performances by Helen Mirren and Michael Sheen and how well written Queen Elizabeth and Tony Blair are, the film is elevated, making it clear why this is the one that got the cinema release.
My Rating: 4.5/5