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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Britain's Two New Offerings

'Mum' & The Queen reflective of class
by Jan Stetter/QCFMag.com

This week’s review is about two British movies playing in theatres. What is nice about reviewing two movies from the same country is the feel for the social decorum of the British from the Royal Family to the minister’s family.

Keeping Mum is a play on words and an appropriate title for this British comedy. It is about a modern day Vicar’s family and the universal monotony and familiarity experienced in marriage.

Remembering the importance of reconnecting with one’s family is given extra attention through the delightful antics of Maggie Smith. She plays a sweet, unassuming house maid whose meddling effects the family’s shortcomings and frustrations. Her dark past comes back to intervene and keep this family together.

Kristen Scott Thomas plays the unfulfilled wife teetering on the brink of an affair with her American Golf instructor. Patrick Swayze is hilarious as the mean, lean Lothario. Kudos to his comic timing and performance. In another surprise performance Rowan Atkinson (universally known as Mr. Bean) plays a serious, intellectual man of the cloth. What this family lacks in unity is rediscovered through the misguided comical transgressions of Maggie Smith’s character. This movie was a delight.

In proper British fashion, propriety prevails over self-gratification in both movies. In the movie The Queen, Helen Mirren plays the current head of England’s monarchy. This movie begins as the new Prime Minister, Tony Blair (Michael Sheen) has been elected to his position. The fatal car crash killing England’s beloved Diana, dubbed the princess of the people, occurred shortly after Blair’s election.

So begins this movie and the account of the days following the princess’ death and the recrimination towards the Royal Family in their dilatory response of Diana’s untimely fate. If an Oscar could be awarded on just the ability to look like the person one is presenting, then Helen Mirren would win hands down. She also brings much more subtle similarities to her performance. Mirren’s controlled expression and modulated speech revealing little emotion in acknowledging the tragedy of Diana’s death for her countrymen was magnificent.

If you are a fan of the Royal Family or a quixotic admirer of Princess Diana this movie will shed some light on this famous family’s dynamics. In a compassionate story detailing the way in which Queen Elizabeth mourned and acknowledged her former daughter-in law’s demise; Helen Mirren shows us the integrity of the English Royal Sovereignty and the lack of awareness of her people’s devotion and grief in Dianna’s passing.

This movie pulls no punches in excusing the overdue acknowledgement by the Queen of Diana who was adored by her entire country. Yet, it does serve to show how the Queen’s insulated upbringing and grooming left her to respond in the only way she knew how.

We walk away with a better understanding and a more tolerant view of the Queen. As I am sure, Helen Mirren will walk away with an Oscar for her portrayal of The Queen.



  • At 6:18 AM , Blogger Reel Fanatic said...

    Wow .. I hadn't even heard of Keeping Mum, but it sounds like just my cup of tea .. thanks for the head's up! .. and I just can't wait to see Dame Mirren's take on the queen, or her return as Jane Tennison tonight


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