Christopher Stevens, The Daily Mail
Nobody can blame The Crown for being too subtle. As the regal Netflix drama returns, close-ups of Lord Louis Mountbatten are punctuated with a newsreel of soldiers and rioters on the streets of Belfast.
A Republican terrorist grumbles about the shedding of British blood when Mountbatten (Charles Dance) joins the Queen in the Trooping of the Color.
Then the narrative changes to Prince Charles and meets a teenage lady Diana Spencer for the first time. All of this before the opening titles even got rolling – at least we know what this is about.
Most of the actors are old hands. Olivia Colman returns as Queen, Josh O & # 39; Connor as Charles and Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret.
But all eyes are on newcomer Emma Corrin, who has the daunting task of showing us who Diana was before she became the most famous person on the planet. How is it possible, asks writer Peter Morgan, that anyone in the royal family or in the media could have imagined that this shy, inexperienced young woman would be fit for the international spotlight and all of the duties of a future queen?
When we first see her, she is 16 years old and wearing a costume for a school production of A Midsummer Night & # 39; s Dream. In flowers and green leggings, she proclaims that she is "a crazy tree". While Charles is hanging around the entrance hall of her family mansion, Althorp, waiting to go on a date with her older sister Sarah, Lady Di makes sure he sees her by demonstratively tiptoeing from one hiding place to another yelling, “Sorry , I am not here! & # 39;
Sarah later says her little sister is "obsessed with meeting you".
Di does it again months later, making sure to run into Charles at a jumping event following the IRA's murder of Mountbatten.
When the prince simulates and sighs behind the wheel of his Aston Martin, she pours out her condolences.
In this version of events, Di has a plan and executes it perfectly.
She makes herself popular with the royals and makes it impossible for Charles not to get married to her.
The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh (Tobias Menzies), Margaret, Anne, the Queen Mother … all the high-ranking kings Charles very unlikely to call "the whole terrible Politburo" – they are all in love with Diana.
Even the woman he loves, Mrs. Parker Bowles (Emerald Fennell), thinks he should take the plunge.
It's a very different story from the one painted in ITV's The Diana Interview on Monday, which claimed the teenage bride-to-be made such an impression on her royal fiancé that she addressed him as "Sir" rather than his first name use.
Morgan didn't mind turning his characters into caricatures, regardless of the real people who inspire his story. Maybe he thinks they deserve no consideration or that they have learned to ignore anything about them in the media. But his calluses are tough on fringe characters like Sarah Spencer, now McCorquodale, who first drives Charles to a private lodge on the premises and later tries to sabotage her sister's chances.
Subsequent episodes are relentless in their portrayal of Diana's suffering, including her bulimia. Some carry "trigger warnings" that they contain "scenes of an eating disorder that some viewers may find problematic".
Before their wedding, we see them standing in front of a palace refrigerator in the middle of the night, eating desserts. Then she kneels over a toilet and shoves her fingers down her throat to vomit repeatedly.
During her first trip abroad with Charles and their young son William, and in 1990, when the marriage is on the verge of irreversible collapse, excruciating fighting occurs again and again in Australia. It's brutal to see.
This season is 24-year-old Miss Corrin's only chance to interpret Diana.
When the series returns for the fifth time, it will be Elizabeth Debicki – star of The Night Manager – who plays the princess. How long do we have to wait, given the restrictions the pandemic is placing on filming? nobody can tell.
It's also the only chance Gillian Anderson has to make her Margaret Thatcher impression. And it's an impression, though more like Faith Brown's send-up on the Mike Yarwood Show than the real Prime Minister. Anderson is constantly swaying like she's on deck in a heavy swell – something comedians have always copied, though Maggie never did.
The Queen tries to like her and even holds political lectures on the phone, but the final straw comes when Mrs. Thatcher arrives at Balmoral in pumps and her signature blue suit instead of rubber boots and a Barbour. Apparently, Her Majesty is such a snob that she can't stand anyone who doesn't know how to dress for a hike on the Scottish moors.
Anderson may look cheap, but Olivia Colman certainly doesn't. She is in no way like the queen – doesn't look like her, move like her, talk like her, resemble her in any way. She plays the monarch as a bourgeois suburban housewife, which is doubly bizarre when the rest of the cast act like Spitting Image puppets.
The Queen Mum pushes back a gin and tonic and yells: "Chippety Choppity, down with the Nazis." Prince Philip responds to Mrs. Thatcher's election with the complaint: "That is the last thing this country needs, two women to run the shop."
Denis Thatcher (Stephen Boxer) goes further: "Two menopausal women, this will be a smooth ride."
Smoothly, maybe not. But it's definitely soapy. For all its flaws, The Crown gives us what we ask of the royal cavalry – uninterrupted high drama and emotion wrapped in a fairy tale.
Whether it's a glimpse of Philip behind his steely facade accusing his drunk son of poaching Mountbatt's paternal affection, or Margaret in her most appalling form when she scolds Ms. T. as "mean", this series shows us again and again the royal family like us I love imagining them … "whatever love is".
Ed Power, the independent
Olivia Colman shows a reasonably restrained performance as queen. The crown is reportedly a long-form exploration of Elizabeth's eight decades on the throne.
Here she mostly serves as a substitute for the audience, as does Tobias Menzies & # 39; excellent Prince Phillip. Colman is perfectly happy to sit back and take it all in. This is especially true when Anderson's Thatcher makes her appearance. She is a force of nature as you would expect. And yet initially feels a little different about the X-Files star's propensity for the most divisive prime minister of the era.
Terri White, empire
The tension between Anderson and Colman is some of the best in The Crown history … The other half of the series is dedicated to the woman who, along with Thatcher, most defined the 1980s in Great Britain: Princess Diana (Emma Corrin).
This was arguably a more difficult casting and performance task. Diana was the most photographed woman in the world …
Emma Corrin has the youth, the innocence, the sweetness that has yet to curdle. But unlike Anderson as Thatcher, you can never lose the feeling that she is playing Diana. The real Princess of Wales saw in a few moments and was masked by mimicry in others
Katie Rosseinsky, The Evening Standard
At number 10, Anderson's Iron Lady initially feels like the Crown's answer to Gollum, with her hunched posture (heavy is the head wearing the wig) and a voice that creaks and strains on every syllable. It may seem strange to an actor of her subtlety to try something this larger than life – but so much of Thatcher's personality was performance. This was the woman Laurence Olivier's vocal coach hired to transform her natural register into something more husky and authoritative.
Lewis Knight, The Mirror
Newcomer Emma Corrin takes on the daunting task of playing a global icon, but she manages to capture Diana's voice and mannerisms with an accuracy that extends well beyond her years, which makes her character's tragic rise to fame all the more believable.
In the meantime, actor Josh O'Connor infuses the Prince of Wales with soul and sensitivity to unite the heir to the throne in his relationship with him, despite the new episodes that show a Prince Charles in his petty and selfish form Leaving a touch of sympathy for Diana becomes all the more toxic.
Caroline Framke, diversity
For four seasons Morgan has been writing a remarkably addicting, secretly silly royal soap opera who only occasionally understands how obvious it can be. And yet, complemented by razor-sharp performances and the most luxurious stage set Netflix money can offer, The Crown has successfully sold itself as one of the most serious dramas on television. Season four, in all its shameless glory, may be the most successful yet, even if it brings that prestigious perception to bed. After all, as “The Crown” reminds us with every dizzying twist of Diana's misfortune, the rabid royal family audiences will always lead a higher drama about a more human reality.
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