“The Queen” is the second film in writer Peter Morgan’s informal “Tony Blair” trilogy, three films with largely the same creative team, and all featuring Michael Sheen as Tony Blair. As with Peter Morgan’s other political writing, “The Queen” shows his great skill in drilling down to the emotional core of nuanced political events, focusing on the very human relationships and motivations rather than specific political minutiae.
Tony Blair takes more of a backseat in this one, with Helen Mirren leading the charge as Queen Elizabeth II in an outstanding, iconic performance. When delivering Morgan’s fantastic dialogue, she does brilliantly, but it’s the silent acting that really impressed me; she says so much with minor expressions. Sheen is as fine as Blair as ever, but Mirren gets the much showier, more impressive role, and certainly excels at it.
This is a more complicated story than the preceding “The Deal”, dealing with more complicated issues relating to societal change, attitudes of the royal family, the relationship between the British government and the monarchy, and all the thorny issues surrounding Diana and her death. Nevertheless, Morgan continues to succeed in focusing on the relatable, understandable relationships, motivations, and emotions behind the agents involved.
Where the film does differ from “The Deal” is in its much higher production value, much more impressive cinematography (some scenes in Scotland are particularly breathtaking), and more Hollywood touches like an emotive score. Interestingly, both films were directed by the same man, Stephen Frears, so it seems production value and making a theatrical film as opposed to a television film does makes a huge difference.
I find films like this exceedingly easy to like. I give it four corgis, and a crown.