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The Queen (5/10)

by Tony Medley

Well, if you like slow and inaccurate, this should be your cup of tea. This is a film that purports to tell the story of how Queen Elizabeth II (Helen Mirren) handled Princess Diana’s death. The problem with it is that the incidents that it shows that must be factual, rather than conjecture, in order for the film to have credibility, are blatantly inaccurate.

First, it shows Tony Blair (Michael Sheen) in his first meeting with the Queen, to ask her to allow him to form a government. It’s bad enough that Blair is pictured as nervous and uncertain, but what is ridiculous is that he is shown as totally ignorant and oblivious of protocol. The Queen has to stop and correct him to instruct him how it’s done. As confirmed by the British consulate in Los Angeles, anyone going in to see the Queen is fully briefed on how to act. It is ludicrous to think that a newly-elected Prime Minister, of all people, wouldn’t be fully briefed on how to act in forming a new government, if, indeed, he didn’t already know how it works. It seems as if director Stephen Frears is taking a cheap shot at Blair and wants him to look weak, stupid, and ineffectual.

This is compounded by scenes of Queen Elizabeth driving around the countryside all alone in her Range Rover. While the Consulate confirms that she does drive alone on her estates, she is never far from security, who follow at a discreet distance. Frears wants us to believe that she hops in her car and can drive all alone with not one person in sight, get stuck, and have to call for help, just like you and I would. Rubbish.

These two major gaffes diminish the effectiveness of this film, which give the word “slow” a new meaning. Mirren does a good job of replicating Queen Elizabeth, but this isn’t anything I’d want to sit through again, or the first time if I knew what was in store for me, unless I just wanted to see a good impersonation of Queen Elizabeth and a bad impersonation of the eloquent Tony Blair.

October 18, 2006