The Queen Stephen Frears

Much has been said about The Queen as the vehicle for the tour-de-force performance by Oscar winner Helen Mirren; it’s an enthralling achievement that was hands down the role of 2006. The veteran actress not only looks identical to "Lilybet” but her verbal nuances, mannerisms, movements — she bloody well is the Queen. But it seems as though with Mirren’s glory, director Frears and screenwriter Peter Morgan have been neglected for their outstanding accomplishments. Simply put, this was a movie few thought any filmmaker could get away with in Britain, and the pair have filled it with complexities that manage to present the much criticised monarchy as the humans we often fail to see them as. Focusing on three major happenings in 1997, Morgan chooses Tony Blair’s election as the entrance point. He then travels through Elizabeth’s year, examining the circumstances of Diana’s death with respect for the royal family while not shying away from the cold hard facts the public suspected. And that goes for Blair’s side of things as well; played brilliantly by Michael Sheen, he’s portrayed as an upstart opportunist when initially elected but rises to influence when forced to deal with the public’s broken heart. The Queen’s biggest revelation is of a woman that has survived a modern world that rarely acknowledges monarchies as anything more than a group of spoilt introverts. It’s hard not to admire the stalwart establishment, and when she is forced to handle her stuck Range Rover in a giant puddle, we’re reminded that, hey, the Queen’s a human just like the rest of us, which in many ways is the most important moment here. The "making of” featurette reveals Mirren’s fear in tackling the role, which she dealt with by treating it like she was painting a portrait. Frears explains that his challenge was due to the complex feelings for the subject, since the Queen has been in his life longer than anyone else alive. Frears and Morgan turn in a fascinating commentary but I prefer the stuffy wisdom of historian and "royal expert” Robert Lacey, who adds plenty to this revelatory triumph. (Alliance Atlantis)