we’re used to seeing nothing of the ‘real’ royal family, and portrayals of them on-screen tend toward the satiric – but frears is too mature a director for that – while there is almost no way we could possibly judge the veracity of the story in this film – that of how the queen responded in the immediate aftermath of the tragic death of princess diana – this film manages to make convincing human beings out of – especially – elizabeth windsor and tony blair.
there was a sense of something like relief among the audience i saw it with – as if we have been bursting to see these public figures behave like real people. the communal feeling might best be summed up as socio-psychological dam bursting – as finally got to see humanity behind the usual steely public demeanour. blair comes out of the film as a calculating man, alistair campbell as a political machine, the queen as a woman of stature and dignity who represents something rare in contemporary society – someone who believes that their life exists for the sake of something bigger than themselves.
now i would not want to go much further than that – the monarchy is not an institution that i would invest a lot of time endorsing – but there is something about this film that made me feel that i understood more about the epochal cultural changes that have happpened to britain, ireland, and europe in the past ten years.