Disorder in the Court

In The Madness of King George, it's not good to be king

But the film is still immensely involving, primarily because of its large and talented cast. Helen Mirren is a joy as George's devoted wife, Queen Charlotte, who stands by her man even when he can't remember who she is, and Rupert Everett is also quite fine as the foppish Prince of Wales, who schemes to use George's madness as a pretext for seizing power. I was also fond of Rupert Graves, who plays Captain Greville, the king's unflappable right-hand man and liaison to Parliament, with such an amusingly stiff upper lip that at times he suggests a Chuck Jones cartoon version of a royal bureaucrat.

The performers are so good that they rescue even the clunkiest scenes, such as the one in which George and his doctor sit in lawn chairs and perform a passage from that classic of royal madness, King Lear. The scene itself underlines the script's main points a bit too emphatically, but Holm and Hawthorne have such marvelously expressive voices that I didn't really care. While listening to them, you might find yourself thinking, as I did, that George is a sweet man who deserves to be cured, but not until he's finished reading.

The Madness of King George. Directed by Nicholas Hytner.
Rated PG-13.
110 minutes.

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