Olivia Colman takes the throne in ‘The Crown’ - GulfToday

Olivia Colman takes the throne in ‘The Crown’


Olivia Colman as Queen Elizabeth II in season 3 of "The Crown." TNS

Lorraine Ali

Season 3 of the popular Netflix series, “The Crown” shines brighter than ever.

With Claire Foy previously at the helm of the series, portraying Elizabeth in her naïve early years, this new season has Olivia Colman plays the maturing matriarch.

Now approaching 40, the Queen has found peace in her once-crumbling marriage, but the UK itself is falling apart. The economy is tanking, the working class is on the verge of revolt and Parliament is hopelessly split. And if the most visible symbol of British power has learned anything over the years, it’s that she has no power at all. Only sway.

Colman is masterful as a cold but not uncaring figurehead for a country in need of solace. She has to fake tears when touring a disaster site where a schoolhouse full of children were buried under an avalanche of coal sludge. She’s bothered, but mostly by why she can’t feel things the way others do.

She wants to feel, but even if she could, her station demands an inhuman detachment. Colman carries that imbalance with her throughout the season, frostily dressing down her own son Charles (Josh O’Connor) then tenderly talking about the race horses she loves as if they were her real children.

The drama, which kicks off in 1964, also finds that the rest of Buckingham Palace has matured. Or at least grown older by a few years.

The troubled Princess Margaret is played with zest by the brilliant Helena Bonham Carter. The royal black sheep has finally found an era that suits her: the swinging Sixties, where anything goes.

 “The Crown’s” attention to historical detail is stunning, as usual. It spans one of the more tumultuous decades in modern history, pitting social and political upheaval as well as modern technological advancements up against the cloistered lives inside Buckingham Palace.

Sweeping historical significance aside, it’s the intimate, internal battles make this season just as riveting — if not stronger — as the last two. The Duke of Edinburgh (Tobias Menzies) has made peace with his role as the Queen’s arm candy, but the former pilot is now facing a midlife crisis. What purpose has he served, and what will he achieve, if anything, before he dies?

Ageing and opportunities lost and go hand in hand throughout Season 3. The Queen, who refers to herself as an “old bat,” laments in a rare, vulnerable moment that she’d dreamed of breeding horses until “the other thing came along.”

Nuanced and powerful dialogue runs throughout the series, and in the hands of the stellar cast, it makes for indelible moments.

Heir to the throne Prince Charles (Josh O’Connor) emerges mid-season as a student at Cambridge who’s found a hobby he’s passionate about: acting. Then comes the call to duty, and the dashing of dreams. He’s sent to Wales during an independence movement that doesn’t want him. He immerses himself in the culture, learns to speak Welsh and miraculously turns the region in his favour after delivering a heartfelt speech.

The warmth he engenders, however, doesn’t extend to his mother. There’s no “well done,” or even a pat on the back, when he returns. The Queen is disappointed with all the emotion in his speech.

“I have a beating heart, a character. A will of my own… Mummy, I have a voice,” he pleads.

“Let me let you in on a secret. No one wants to hear it.”

Tribune News Service

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