This is an odd sort of film. Parts of it are very good, but other parts, well I just don’t think they work. The film is mostly set in the few days surrounding the death of Diana, as the British public went into public mourning over the “People’s Princess” while the Royal Family seemed to remain aloof and distant. Thereby earning a lot of criticism from their subjects.
Maybe my main problem with the film was that I never understood the huge out pourings of grief over Diana, and I really don’t get why she still manages to sell papers, almost 10 years after her death. The hundreds of thousands of people who went into the streets in tears didn’t know her at all, yet her death still impacted hugely on them. And the Queen of England didn’t appear to get it either. Prefering to stay in Balmoral with the family, dealing with the family’s grief in private. In a dignified manner.
And Helen Mirren does a good job at portraying this woman raised to be dignified and in control. Raised in a different generation so that to some she appears cold-hearted and distant. The rest of the casting I wasn’t so impressed with. James Cromwell is too dignified to really excel as Prince Phillip, although on occasion he does get it right. While many of the other actors looked to similar to the characters they were portraying and so came across more as a skit show rather than as actors. And I wouldn’t be happy if I was Cherie Blair as written for this film.
Also the fact that “the boys” were never shown was a bit of a mistake from the story’s perspective, although I can see why the film makers would want to respect the privacy of William and whatever the other one is called. And I suppose you could argue that the film is about the Queen, not the family, but it didin’t really work for me.
Overall I felt the film was effective in parts, especially in its mixing real footage of the time, but it just didn’t work as a whole. As a character study of the Queen, yes. But apart from that it wasn’t great, maybe because instead of characters we got imitations of the other main players.
Or then again, maybe it is just the fact that I really don’t seen the point in having a monarchy at all, and that political opinion coloured my interpretation of the film.