Tuesday, October 10, 2006

THE QUEEN (updated)

Awards season is starting up, and tonight I saw a screening of the THE QUEEN at the Arclight in the Dome.

It was pretty good, although the third act happens too quickly, and the Tony Blair character's shift happens too suddenly. Helen Mirren was very good, but Michael Sheen really stole the show. There was a Q&A with the two of them afterwards, and he had a lot of good comments about playing a real person.

Wednesday I plan on seeing THE DEPARTED. I'm looking forward to it!

EDIT: As per Ziggy's request, I'll talk a little more about
THE QUEEN.
There are some SEMI-SPOILERS here, so if you don't want to know more, don't read! (If you remember the events in real life, you probably know most of this.)

The film has a strange structure because it covers exactly one week of time, starting with Tony Blair's election, then immediately goes to Diana's death. (Diana is shown only through real documentary footage.)

The rest of the film deals with the one-week period during which the country mourned, but the royal family denied any involvement with the funeral because Diana was no longer a member of the royal family.

There's a lot of good writing in Elizabeth's character, showing how and why she did nothing, and the movie is actually a comedy much of the time, laughing at how out of touch the royal family is. It could easily have been parody or satire, but I think Mirren's performance rises above that and makes her more human.

The best scene in the movie (BIG SPOILER) has Elizabeth alone driving out to a hunt, and getting stuck in the middle of a river. She sees a beautiful buck, and when she hears the hunters approach, she shoos the animal away. It's an amazingly touching scene, with no real dialogue, and only one character. Mirren plays the whole scene with her facial response. There's a parallel payoff scene later in the movie, which humanizes her more with the deer than with her own deceased ex-daughter-in-law, a bitter irony.

That said, I don't know if it was really an Oscar-caliber performance, although I notice a 98% on Rottentomatoes.com, which could translate into a nod. She's clearly a big part of the film's success. (She also won an Emmy this year for playing Elizabeth I!)

Michael Sheen, on the other hand, carried the movie. He's in far more scenes than the Queen, and when he's onscreen, the scene is about him. Except for some weak writing of his character shift, his character is far more three-dimensional. I'd be surprised if he didn't get a nomination, probably for supporting since he's second-billed. It helps that he looks amazingly like Blair from certain angles.

Interesting fact: Helen Mirren did her own makeup for the movie, in about fifteen minutes a day. Neither actor used extensive makeup (prosthetics) to play their parts. They both felt that the transition should be handled by acting.

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