Monday, September 03, 2007

The royal gaze

We watched "The Queen" again last night. It may seem trite to say it but nonetheless we did. You really do think it's her. She's too young, too tall and she has the same broad-hipped walk as DCI Jane Tennison, but still Helen Mirren's turn as the Queen is one of the supreme pieces of impersonation. It works best when she occupies the entire frame - very much as her character does an entire stamp - and just looks out at the rest of us. She describes how she did it in a marvellous John Lahr profile in the New Yorker. “Her personality, her intelligence, everything is way back. Then she’s steadily looking out, as if through a porthole, with this incredibly nonjudgmental, confident gaze." Like Michael Caine says, the only thing that matters in movie acting is the eyes.


  1. Missed it last night but I’ve watched it a few times on shiny disc. It really is an exceptional performance. Every time, guaranteed, at some point in the film a little spark will ignite in my brain and I’ll blurt out, “Shit, that’s Helen Mirren!”

  2. First time I'd seen it but absolutely loved the film and Mirren's performance in particular. You're right - you forget she's acting, she IS old Lizzie.

    I thought the star of the show, however, was Michael Sheen as Bliar (see what I did there?) Not only were the vocal tics and facial contortions spot on but his acting was just magnificent. Plus it reminded you why so many voted for him in the first place, what a feeling of hope there was in the country and how far the chosen can fall.

    Top stuff.

  3. It is a wonderful film and it goes without saying how wonderful Mirren is. But I loved the performance of whoever it was playing the queen mom. About twenty years too young and a bit too close to the spitting image puppet for comfort.

    Most of all I liked the way it reminded us about that crazy week when it seemed to me and many others that the country had gone completely mad.

    I remember at the time thinking the queen seemed to being a bit bullied by a press determined to hide their possible culpability regarding the paparazzi who were being blamed for her death. It was nice to be reminded of that in Blair's rant at Cherie.

  4. I read that Michael Sheen is going to play the part of Brian Clough in the next Stephen Frears film. Can't wait.