The film recounts the week after the 1997 death of Princess Diana. Duty first, self second, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II said, giving insight on her position in the world. Helen Mirren, who won Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival where the film also won Best Screenplay and director Stephen Frears won the FIPRESCI Award, gives a riveting performance as HM Queen Elizabeth II. The film shows the struggle between the Queen and Prime Minister, Tony Blair (Michael Sheen) to reach an agreement on how to publicly deal with the death. The movie sheds light on the reasoning behind the response she gave nine years ago. It casts a light of humanity on the stern leader. The movie is not purely dramatic, there are bits of dry British comedy sprinkled throughout. A very weak Prince Charles is apparent in the movie. He did not seem to know what to do and how to respond to the news. He was unable to stand up to the queen and let her know what he wanted to happen to the children. The film is directed by Stephen Frears who last directed Mrs. Henderson Presents. He captures the royals and their behaviors in a striking manner to allow them to become real and not appear so inaccessible. Mirren, of Gosford Park, gave a wonderful performance and captured the essence of the crown. Along with her mannerisms, her resemblance to the queen affords a convincing performance. James Cromwell, of The Longest Yard, plays Prince Philip and supports the queen through this time. The Oscar buzz surrounding Mirren is worthy. She pulls off the role of the queen with ease and grace and allows a view into the person and not just the public figure and facade she has to exemplify on a daily basis. Also opening at the Renoir is Goya's Ghost and fans of double Oscar-winner Milos Forman might be expecting his first film for seven years to provide an examination of revolutionary Spanish painter, Francisco de Goya. But instead, what Forman describes as merciless history takes centre stage. The latest offering from the 74-year-old Czech director, opening this week in Madrid, is a $50 million drama filmed lavishly on location around Spain, with a mostly Spanish cast and hearthrobs Javier Bardem and Natalie Portman in starring roles. Forman is famous for biopics such as his 1984 extravaganza, Amadeus, which won a clutch of Oscars, and before that for the 1975 Oscar-winner, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Goya's Ghosts tells the story of a sinister yet charismatic monk, Lorenzo (Bardem), who becomes infatuated with a young girl, Ines (Portman) and both are the fictional subjects of portraits by Spanish court painter Goya, considered by some art historians to be the first of the moderns. The film is primarily the story of Ines, who is questioned under the Inquisition with tragic consequences.
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