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Sunday, September 14, 2008

THE QUEEN (2006)

It’s hard to think of a helmer, certainly of another British helmer, who brings Stephen Frears’ comfort zone to such a wide range of pics. DANGEROUS LIAISONS/’88, MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDRETTE/’85, DIRTY PRETTY THINGS/’02, THE SNAPPER (a personal favorite)/’93, HIGH FIDELITY/2000, THE GRIFTERS/’90; a display of genre crossing ease and consistency unheard of these days. While Helen Mirren received the lion’s share of critical praise (rightly so, her perf must have been the despair of other actresses out with a showy project in ‘06), Frears, working from Peter Morgan’s sharp & funny script, turns what might have been mere gossipy fun into something smart, touching and even thoughtful. The now famous sequence between the Queen and a magnificent stag is flat out breathtaking moviemaking. The basic idea -- how the death of Princess Di forced Queen Elizabeth II and the untested Prime Minister Blair to bring out the best in each other -- reaps considerably more rewards than the sum of its parts. Special points to Roger Allam as Robin, the Queen’s main aide, who’s such a comfort he makes you want to say, "I’ll take one of those."

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