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Colin Randall wrote here on France, things Anglo-French and more......but has moved

October 24, 2006

Helen Mirren: dame, queen and rebel

This site has now moved to Salut!

Bardot and Deneuve, Adjani and Beart, Audrey Tautou and Virginie Ledoyen.......the list could go on. French actresses have long been credited with special powers to enthrall and excite English speaking cinema goers.

Even Beatrice Dalle, who has hardly (I nearly said barely) done anything memorable since Betty Blue, managed to grab a few headlines when, in the latest chapter of her offbeat life, she married a French villain in jail.

But the fascination works both ways.

Interviews with American, British and other Anglophone actresses seem to be must-haves for the French glossy magazines and newspapers.

All the better, for audiences in France, if there is a certain Frenchness about the leading lady in the spotlight.

Jodie Foster, for example, because she was educated at a lycee in California.

Helena Bonham Carter, Charlotte Rampling, Kristin Scott Thomas and Emma Thompson because they all speak such good French. Jane Birkin because she doesn't - or, at any rate, because she clings to the extravagant English accent and schoolgirlish constructions that so charm the French (while actually being able to speak the language flawlessly, according to my spies).

Rampling turned 60 this year. Birkin reaches the milestone in December. And the flavour of the month is another sixtysomething.

Step forward Dame Helen Mirren.

Eight million viewers apparently watched the concluding episode of her last (last ever, or last for now?) appearance as Detective Superintendent Jane Tennison in Prime Suspect.

It was a majestic performance, full of tension and humanity, and probably needed to be in order to rise above a plot full of implausible twists.

But the French are not raving about Mirren's portrayal of an alcoholic cop's final case.

They have another, even more majestic role in mind - her incarnation of The Queen in Stephen Frears's excellent new film about the days that followed the death in Paris of Diana, Princess of Wales.

"Amazing". "Utterly royal". "Incredible". "Mesmerising". From Le Monde and Le Figaro Magazine to the online Absolu Feminin, the plaudits have been truly impressive.

And rightly so. Mirren not only manages to look the part but draws on her matchless technique to capture all that we know, and much more that we believe, about the monarch.

She is certainly helped in her endeavours by the strength of the supporting cast. Mark Bazeley gets Alastair Campbell to a slightly thuggish perfection, James Cromwell - an American for heaven's sake - is splendid as a curmudgeonly and harrumphing Prince Philip.

But it is Mirren who beyond question steals the show. All the more disappointing, then, that box office figures in France have so far fallen way short of The Queen's very successful start in Britain.

Perhaps the French need to be reassured that while the lady may be a dame and be happy to play a queen, she is no royalist.

Once they realise that she shares their republican instincts and has always been seen as something of a rebel, they will surely flock to their nearest salle de cinema multiplex.

This site has now moved to Salut!

21 Comments:

At October 24, 2006 5:01 PM, Blogger Colin Randall said...

Sorry, no accents again - computer playing up

 
At October 24, 2006 5:30 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

This is a brilliant movie, though I doubt if the real queen (rather less convincing playing herself, sometimes, than Helen Mirren's Oscar-worthy portrayal) would agree. Michael Sheen is impressive, too, as Tony Blair. And how refreshing to see a film that honestly portrays the Queen Mum as a malevolent old harridan, rather than the cuddly Muppet we're usually presented with.
An unflinching look at a dysfunctional and borderline-lunatic family with a lot of laughs to be had, albeit mostly cruel ones.

 
At October 25, 2006 5:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

whoots~ i nev

 
At October 25, 2006 5:20 PM, Anonymous My Majesty the Queen said...

My Husband and I are not amused by this devaluation of the Sovereign. The Queen, remember, is not a subject. The Royal We shall have Our revenge with Our Christmas message.

 
At October 25, 2006 5:35 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

"whoots i nev?" Not only anonymous but enigmatic. It can be rearranged into "twin hooves" or "woven hoist," neither of which have any obvious regnant connotations. Perhaps now that Mrs. Windsor has joined our happy throng, she could throw a little imperial light this way?

 
At October 25, 2006 7:31 PM, Blogger anne gilbert said...

Well Mrs.Windsor would know that this is not her place.We have not refined ourselves yet to be worthy of the attention of those with polish.She would probably be interested in Ann Widdecombe MP to read marvellous English expression reserved for those who give time and thought to writing.
Bill,do you have that program on your computer that translates any word into anagrams?

 
At October 25, 2006 7:58 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

It's www.wordsmith.org/anagram/advanced.html

 
At October 26, 2006 9:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This film is on my 'want to see' list, and there's another too, but I can't remember what it's called...

 
At October 26, 2006 10:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The English Patient ? :-)

mr. funny ha ha

 
At October 26, 2006 2:53 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

Any further word on the Tele strike? I see that the Barclay twins, who own the Telegraph Group, are refusing to comment. But what else is happening? And when? And are we here all boycotting the Telegraph blog as a gesture of solidarity?

 
At October 26, 2006 3:16 PM, Blogger anne gilbert said...

One of my favourites is David Rennie's blog.Some of the comments are great lengthly dialogues that makes a person appreciate the art of communication.But lately all's quiet over there.

The Telegraph has not yet picked up on the death of Todd Skinner,world class rock climber.
I'm certainly no rock climber but to see his website picturing climbing in Greenland with tent spiked into the rockface is truly shocking.
What disparate lives;tenting in Greenland/writing news at Canary wharf.
Neither for me thanks.

 
At October 26, 2006 5:12 PM, Anonymous my majesty the queen said...

We are laid low with back strain, which Our doctors say was sustained on Our last trip to Balmoral but has just manifested itself. So much for Our reputation for being unbending. Further bulletins will be issued as We deem necessary.

 
At October 26, 2006 5:15 PM, Anonymous my majesty the queen also said...

Ouch!

 
At October 26, 2006 5:23 PM, Anonymous my majesty the queen also also said...

And don't call Us Mrs. bloody Windsor! What are We - soup? (Don't answer that.)

 
At October 26, 2006 5:44 PM, Blogger anne gilbert said...

The Queen we read.
Is out of sorts.
HM's press given report.
Mentions soup.
We know not why.
Then underlines "don't reply".
We shall not worry.
We need not know.
Baltic visits or rest in bed.
The crown of England is on her head.
Long live the queen.

 
At October 26, 2006 6:46 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

You've never eaten Brown Windsor Soup, Anne? One of England's most egregious culinary outrages; an experience you've been fortunate to miss.

 
At October 26, 2006 7:57 PM, Blogger anne gilbert said...

And all this time I was searching for soup as an anagram.

Brown Windsor soup takes it's name.
From Windsor kings that gave it fame.
Often served throughout their reign.
On Balmoral menus still remains.
A hearty soup for kings and queens.
And all the others in between.
The best of British at it's best.
And served to those in need of rest.
Brown Windsor soup,we raise a toast.
God save the Queen.
Who needs it most.

 
At October 27, 2006 2:59 PM, Anonymous my majesty the queen said...

We didn't mind at all not being able to visit Arsenal yesterday. Football is not Our cup of tea (and besides We support Queen's Park, of course).
But We were disappointed to miss the horseracing at Newmarket today (in spite of having to show up, back strain and all, to eat lunch there), horseracing being the Sport of Kings. My Husband, such a wag, always says the true Sport of Kings is Queens. But what would He know? He's only a Duke.

 
At October 28, 2006 2:24 PM, Anonymous June Harper said...

One of the best films I've seen for a long time was the new Scorcese, The Departed. There is nothing more satisfying than watching a well constructed thriller, something that exhilirates you and this is Scorcese back to his Godfather best.
Jack Nicholson steals the show and if you can stomach the obligatory violence, it's well worth watching.

 
At October 28, 2006 4:02 PM, Anonymous my majesty the queen said...

When We saw The Departed advertised, We thought it was another film about Diana. Until We realised it was just a nice little gangster film, there was hard-to-stomach violence all over Balmoral, let Us tell you. We fear that may be how We came to injure Our back.

 
At October 29, 2006 2:05 PM, Anonymous June Harper said...

Maybe your majesty should go and see Marie Antoinette instead as a gentle reminder on what happened to pampered monarchs in France and count your blessings that the monarchy is alive and well in Britain, allowing you time to post your fascinating observations on this blog.

 

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