In an age where it's impossible to go a day without blistering headlines, the escape into a beautifully crafted and wonderfully smart British costume drama is very much needed. The return of Netflix's royal drama, The Crown, has provided the stimulus to transport us civilians into the complicated and mysterious lives of high society and away from our currently troubled world. Peter Morgan's smart, historical, yet widely intimate, story, paired with a marvelous cast and immaculate period detail, makes the second series of The Crown just as compelling as the first.
Beginning with Prince Philip's (Matt Smith) 1956 Royal Tour, the second series of The Crown follows the Queen (Claire Foy) through a turbulent decade. The Queen's sister, Princess Margaret (Vanessa Kirby) falls in love with a radical photography (Matthew Goode), whose presence sparks a shift in the institution's stuffy traditions. The Queen must not only deal with Britain's war with Egypt, a government in disarray, and the arrival of new American politics, but she also must change the monarchy to adapt to the modern times.
The shining gem of The Crown, and of the British film industry in general, is the immaculate period detailing. Despite a screenplay that, at times, is a bit dull and meticulous, the grandeur of the whole picture never failed to capture one's imagination. From the stunning set details to the methodically accurate costumes, The Crown proved once again to be a highly contested example of the brilliance of fine British filmmaking. Moreover, the program's cast of directors, although each distinct in their vision of the program, find a way to intertwine their stories into a fantastic retelling of history - that also looks forward to our troubling present.
Once again, Peter Morgan penned a brilliant screenplay that effortlessly integrated the public with the private. This series, however, did occasionally push the limit on housewife drama - in particular, the opening Philip and Elizabeth storylines - in an attempt to make the Royals more common than majestic. And, although this series delved greatly into the politics of the era and explored the inevitable impact on the Queen (which was performed impeccably by Claire Foy), it neglected valuable opportunities to explore even deeper into the characters of those surrounding her. Morgan briefly skimmed over Phillip's past, which could have provided provoking material both in terms of narrative and in performance by Matt Smith, and Margret's character arch, in typical fashion, was pushed to the side to allow her sister to shine. Yet, despite this, The Crown has once again prevailed in crafting a pristine and enticing character study of not just the most famous woman in the world, but also of her country and subjects.
The cast, although all to be replaced next series with older actors, continues to be yet another shining asset to this already perfect show. Every cast member - from the one-off stints of actors like Bertie Carvel to the guest appearances of Anna Chancellor and finally the Windsors themselves - brings glimmering color to these mysterious figures. Claire Foy is, once again, ravishing as the Queen. Her mannerisms and body language, as well as her effortless diction, bring the Queen to life on screen - sometimes forgetting that she isn't, in fact, a vision of the past. She brilliantly captures the fiery fierceness of a powerful woman in a man's world. Yet her eyes and occasionally unguarded expressions show a softer side to the Queen, that brings a sense of humanity to this divine woman. Vanessa Kirby, Matt Smith, and Matthew Goode also entice in their roles. Kirby and Smith continue to shine in their roles as Princess Margaret and Prince Philip, demonstrating their fine skills. Goode, without a doubt, makes his mark on the series, bringing Tony Armstrong-Jones's boyish mischief into the rigid aristocracy.
Peter Morgan's stunning program has once again captivated the world's hearts and minds with the beautiful retelling of the Monarch's most pivotal public and private moments. We can all rest easy knowing that The Crown has remained worthy of its place in British cinematic history.
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