Cate Blanchett reprises her role as the Virgin Queen, Elizabeth I, and is the film's greatest highlight. She exudes power, strength and influence in portraying the 16th century monarch. Her commanding presence on the screen really gives the majestic qualities that the real queen certainly had. At the same time, she gives us a personal glance inside the woman's heart, where she has suppressed from public view an inner vulnerability and melancholy. Elizabeth certainly endured many sorrows, and this portrayal gives us a glance inside the woman's who carried all this upon her shoulders, and is credited with raising England to prominent status on the world stage.
In addition to Blanchett, the supporting cast all turn in superior work. The sets, costuming, and period speech are all mastered well, creating a true feel for the era being depicted. Although many of the people and events are real, a few liberties have been taken apparently to spice up the drama. Such fictionalizing probably wasn't necessary; enough happened during this queen's rule to make the story interesting without it. One example: the flashy Sir Walter Raleigh was indeed a favorite of the queen, but this movie puts them in a romantic triangle that just gets in the way of other things going on. Also, Raleigh, better known as an explorer, was not the hero in the battle with the Spanish Armada.
Blanchett shines when she delivers the famous speech to the troops on the eve of the Spanish invasion. But even she is burdened by the director's preoccupation with Elizabeth as a suffering angst-filled woman facing middle-age with less bravery than facing the world's most powerful fleet at that time. We get endless views of her taking her wig off in secret, and staring at a mirror. The first time this device is used is fine to get the point across of her hopeless situation of never taking a husband (and the slow advance of time having its way), but we see her looking like a shriveled ghost in too many such scenes, and it's way overdone in this context. Her "real" hair sans the wig looks like an inebriated Edward Scissorhands was her hairdresser, and her pale complexion looks like somebody pasted white-out all over her face.
Those few mistakes notwithstanding, this is a fine biopic with superior acting by Blanchett, and is recommended.
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