Bertie & Elizabeth: The Story of King George VI & Queen Elizabeth (review)
Two genres of film collide in this workmanlike Masterpiece Theater entry: the Stolid, Plodding Historical Drama 7th Graders Will Be Forced To Watch In Social Studies Class, and Simplistic Valentines To Complicated Real-Life People For Those Who Want Their Sappy Melodramas Drained Of Any Disruptive Emotion. Actually, that may be giving this stodgy movie too much credit: there’s not much drama in it, much less melodrama, and its subjects may not have been all that complicated after all. Albert, the Duke of York (James Wilby: De-Lovely), who ascended to throne of England when his older brother, Edward VIII, abdicated in 1936, and his wife, Scottish aristocrat Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (Juliet Aubrey: The Mayor of Casterbridge), are happily married; Bertie rules well amidst the (entirely offscreen) excitement of World War II; their daughters are happy and well-adjusted; and the family is beloved by the entire nation. The greatest to-do revolves around Bertie’s stutter, which, unspectacularly, the love of his good and virtuous queen helps him overcome. One longs for some of the titillation that might been provided by greater focus on brother Edward and his naughty affair with American divorcée Wallis Simpson, but that all happens mostly offscreen, too. Everyone who thinks the Queen Mum (that’s Bertie’s Elizabeth, of course) is the greatest thing since clotted cream and scones will find this wonderful — this insipid portrait daren’t suggest she was anything other than a saint.