As much as we enjoyed Stephen Frears’s movie The Queen (and Helen Mirren in it), we felt as if we’d just seen a tough-love valentine to the British royal family. Surely, we thought, there must be serious gothic dysfunction behind those hunting caps and stiff upper lips.
The Queen’s Sister, a biopic made for British TV (now on DVD), gives us a lively, rough-edged counterpoint to the polished image of the Windsors, in which a different “people’s princess” gets to kick up her heels — and then some. Actress Lucy Cohu (Gosford Park) plays Princess Margaret, the headstrong younger sister of Queen Elizabeth II, whose marriage to a hunky photographer, lusty indiscretions, and impromptu performances of Cole Porter songs made her a favorite of the paparazzi — but whose later years were marred by divorce, drug use, and exhaustion.
Though the real Princess Margaret died in seclusion in 2002, The Queen’s Sister makes her a vivid and accessible figure. Buckingham Palace is surely not amused, but we were fascinated.
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