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Queen, The


Stars: Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen, James Cromwell, Helen McCrory, Sylvia Syms

Director: Stephen Frears

Having memorably skewered Tony Blair and Gordon Brown in TV's The Deal, Frears and screenwriter Peter Morgan dramatise events following Princess Diana's death in 1997 when Blair, accurately assessing the country's mood, 'persuaded' the Queen to leave Balmoral and publicly mourn the Princess. The tone is unsentimental and sharp but, happily, not too acid - so that the makers can relax: the Tower of London doesn't beckon.

Mirren crowns the film with a sustained and (notably for her) understated portrait of Her Majesty that justifies her Best Actress accolade at Venice and should bring her more nominations and possibly even actual awards.

For my money, though, Sheen's superb honing of his Blair impersonation from The Deal is the jewel in this crown. He brilliantly encapsulates a man who is all image - photo-opportunity-tuned and ready with media-friendly bonhomie at the drop of a flashbulb.

McCrory, cruelly calling the royals a 'bunch of emotionally retarded freeloading nutters', is an hilarious Cherie Blair, while Cromwell, fondly remembered as Babe's Farmer Hoggett, is good value as Prince Philip.

While it may be suspect in strict historical terms, it's immensely entertaining and more fun than the real thing.

Alan Frank

UK 2006. UK Distributor: Pathe. Colour.
103 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 06 Oct 2006