The Queen – the 4* Film

Having been a fantastically positive old chap for the last couple of posts, I’ve wondered to myself: would I struggle to write about a mediocre film? As this is as much an exploration of my own writing ability as a review/personal expression blog, I’ve wondered: am I up to the challenge? It’s all very well writing about the films that disgust or delight us, but what of the humdrum, four star, The News of the World says, “a masterpiece”, films? Well perhaps you’ll think I’m being a little unfair to The Queen, as let’s be honest there’s plenty more films out there which are “ordinary”, but I found at the end of this film the most I could muster was a raised eyebrow, and also it’s the last film I watched… so there!

IMDB reviews say it’s a four star, 7.5 rated film, I don’t disagree; but there is nothing more off putting for me than a film which plasters itself with four stars and single word exclamations, “terrific”, “fantastic”, “amazing”, shite. Cyncial as it maybe I see this, and tend to think, this is potentially an average film, the marketers are clutching at straws and I’ll wait until it comes out on DVD. It seems IMDB critics have been similarly luke warm with their response to The Queen so I’m not alone!

I think what’s emerged through the last few posts, is that in most films, its success comes down to a crucial battle around one major theme or element. In the Four Lions post I commented that the battle was fought between humour and terrorism, here the conflict lies between our conceptions of the Queen herself, in reality, as an authority in today’s world, and the Queen of the film. It is a battle which for me, is not resolved and ends with an unsatisfactory compromise.

The plot focuses on the first week of Princess Diana’s death in Paris. The Queen sticks stubbornly to tradition and wishes to keep the whole saga as a personal matter, while the modern world, personified rather well by a real life Cheshire cat, Michael Sheen, wishes to make the funeral a public and emotional sendoff. In the real world we all know the funeral ended up being a media circus, which was a paradox if we believe it was the media that drove Princess Di literally to death. So armed with emotions of anger, grief or indifference, the audience sits down ready to watch what could be an interesting perspective of the Royal families approach to the whole drama.

But no, fail! The film never gets off the ground, and flaps agonisingly like a giant peacock, weighed down with expectations. The acting left me with a wry smile and a sense that I was watching actors trying to act like the Royal Family. The symbolism is in your face – a giant Stag, which gets shot – and the whole thing had a air of trying to appease the real life Royal Family. The film wasn’t otherworldly enough in my view and was too rooted in current affairs and real life political concerns. The big drama came down to a statistic that one in four people in the UK wanted to abolish the monarchy at the time of Diana’s death. “I’ve never been hated so much”, The Queen explains in the last scene of the film. Oh boo hoo, get a grip Queeny.

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