Here’s a taste of Stephen FrearsThe Queen (Miramax, 10.6), which will open the New York Film Festival in late September. The big selling point is Helen Mirren‘s performance as Queen Elizabeth, which will probably put her into the Best Actress derby. She’s sublime in the role. Mirren is obviously inhabiting Queen Elizabeth in ways that feel true and well-observed. Her performance is necessarily dry, restrained and reserved, as befits the subject, but she acquaints us with a woman who feels a lot more human than anything I’ve ever detected from the real McCoy.

The film is set in September 1997 and deals with various responses (governmental, royal, personal) to the death of Diana, former Princess of Wales. The Queen is about how the devastation that the British people were feeling about this tragedy finally, after days of disdain and indifference (and with the proddings of Prime Minister Tony Blair), got through to Queen Elizabeth, who heretofore believed that her role was to maintain dignity and decorum at all times and never expose the woman within. No longer!