How appropriate that this should be shown in the week of HM’s 90th birthday – rather neat, too, since it was first released in the year of her 80th. Stephen Frears’s excellent film is set after the death of Princess Diana, when the nation went into unbelievable paroxysms of grief, which the Queen (Helen Mirren), being made of sterner stuff, did not share. The press thought her refusal to join her subjects in publicly tearing her hair and beating her breast was deplorable and her popularity swiftly waned. But help was at hand: into the breach stepped the master populist Tony Blair (Michael Sheen). Against the wishes of other members of the royal family, he persuaded HM to speak out in favour of the late princess and attend her funeral. She agreed and in so doing restored her own popularity. Frears’s direction, Peter Morgan’s screenplay and superb performances by Sheen and the Oscar-winning Mirren make this a tense and absorbing drama.
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