Thursday, April 21, 2011

Helen Mirren in The Queen

Helen Mirren received her third Oscar nomination and first Academy Award for Queen Elizabeth II who's going through a very difficult period in Stephen Frears' Best Picture nominated movie, The Queen. If there's a defintion for a locked Oscar win then it's quite definitely Helen Mirren. Everybody knew that she was going to win the Oscar, nobody even dared to hope that someone else would win. So, it was quite an easy win for her. And I must also add that Mirren won every other possible award that year for this performance.

The Queen is a movie that I used to like very much but this time I was actually a bit bored by it. Naturally, one doesn't expect a tough, huge epic about Queen Elizabeth II but I think that the story is a bit too dry and it fits the medium of television much more. That being said, the diretion of Stephen Frears elevated the material quite a bit. The actors give quite proper and entertaining performances. Many say that Michael Sheen should have got the nod for Best Supporting Actor and I might just say the same. The Best Picture nomination was a bit much, though in my opinion.

Helen Mirren is a terrific actress who's such a huge talent and I so love her on- and off-screen persona. Her real-life self seems to be so much fun and yet she's very dignified and on the screen she shows so much self-control and grace. I think that's what made her the best choice for the title role of The Queen.

I am very curious why Helen Mirren blew the whole world away with her performance. You can say many reasons, which may seem quite true until you see the movie. The film is based on real events (from the recent past) and this one seems to be a very baity role. And yet when I watch the performance, I see nothing very loud and big. As Her Majesty, the Queen puts it in the movie "Nowadays people want to see glamour and tears, the grand performance." However, Mirren approached this character with so much subtlty and dignity and I truly believe that it was the right decision. I think that Mirren's triumph and success is mostly due to the fact that she brought so much dignity to the screen and that's something that everybody loves, even those who deny it ;).

Another reason for Mirren's success with this role was the way she solved the technical part of the performance. Her accent, her speech, her walk the small movements, twitches, little ticks that we see were perfectly done by Helen Mirren. Her Majesty is someone we can occasionally see on TV during her public duties and there's a certain kind of image that we have of her. It's almost a stereotype that Queen Elizabeth II has an admirable sense of duty and commitment towards everything she believes in. Her faith, her family and her people. Mirren showed a more human side of this extraordinary person but she always remained faithful and she respected the personality of the Queen.

I feel that (very much like Judi Dench in Mrs Brown) Helen Mirren didn't get really emotional and I dare say emotionally difficult scenes. Naturally, her monologues and speeches about how she knows her people and how she cares about them are very effective and moving but I don't think that this performance dived deep enough into the sould of this person. The screenplay almost desperately wants to make the Queen seem strong and wise and therefore she became a bit too perfect. And I feel that Mirren could have made her a bit more human. Or I might be a typical person of this era and expect the tears and the grand performance.

Still, I must say that this is a great performance by the great Helen Mirren. As Queen Elizabeth II, Mirren was able to become very moving and effective. The technical part is just perfect though the emotions could have been a bit stronger. Although this work doesn't really live up to the hype that surrounded it when it was released, it's still very well done by Mirren.
What do YOU think?

4 comments:

Sage Slowdive said...

I don't understand the worldwide praise it received, but I think she's great regardless.

Louis Morgan said...

I'm basically with Sage on this one.

joe burns said...

She's excellent, but not worthy of all the praise she got.


And against those 4 performances? I don't think so..

dinasztie said...

I basically agree that she got a bit too much praise but she actually deserves praise. Just not that much.

Joe: I haven't finished the year but she doesn't seem to be that much behind.:)