The Queen 2006 ****

Stephen Frears has made a virtue of highlighting unusual double-acts, from the gay couple in My Beautiful Launderette to the theatre-managers in Mrs Henderson Presents. Peter Morgan has done the same with Frost/Nixon and Rush, and the double-team works beautifully in this study of how Britain reacted to the death of Princess Diana. On one hand, The Queen displays a stiff upper lip and wants to keep her grieving private, while prime minister Tony Blair (Michael Sheen) is media savvy enough to know that there’s political capital to be made from the nation’s mourning,, and a banana skin in wait for anyone who doesn’t toe the line. Playing a character who is constantly in the public eye, Helen Mirren is remarkable as The Queen, capturing the mannerisms but also suggesting the inner turmoil of a monarch who has to take seriously the demands of her job. Those who observe the UK political scene will find much to amuse in the depiction of both the royal family and the Labour party in this witty yet empathetic drama.


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