The Crown 5, review: The season of Charles and Diana obscures the queen and becomes a story from a fairytale

The biopic about the English crown is back with a new cast and a fifth season that only works at times by getting lost in minutiae that don’t fully do justice to its impressive and stylistically flawless series tradition: our review of The Crown 5.

The odd seasons of The Crown they are always the most awaited and the most feared. The reason, mainly, is the traditional cast change wanted by the creator Peter Morgan in an attempt to entrust his story to more convincing interpreters because they are closer to the age of their respective characters. But in the case of the season 5arrived on Netflix last November 9, the attention was even higher. Because this is the first season to come after the disappearance of Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II, and recent events show us how the British continue to be attached to the institution of the Crown. But also because it is the first that a good chunk of spectators hear closest, at least chronologically speaking. The time frame covered by the new ten episodes goes from 1991 to 1997 (expertly leaving out the accident that cost Princess Diana’s life, which will be referred to in the next season), a short period compared to those covered in past seasons, but full of events: from the sunset of the British Empire, to theannus horribilis of the Queen – 1992 when the vast fire that struck Windsor Castle also occurred -, al divorce of Charles and Diana which made the House of Windsor more exposed than ever. Many events and yet too many missteps: the initial shock of the change of actors easily overcome, the problems of this fifth season are others. And in this one review let’s try to explain why.

The Crown: Least Relevant Season So Far, Review

The fifth season of The Crown it starts and ends with the real yacht Britannia inevitably in ruins after four decades of honorable service. “A creature of another era,” says Prince Philip, fueling the declared metaphor of a monarchy considered obsolete, expensive for taxpayers and distant from its subjects. The parallelism between the imposing yacht launched in 1954 and the royal family “system” works on a narrative level, as does the image of commercial television that annoys the queen, linked to the dear and old BBC. That same BBC that then betrays her by broadcasting the interview without filters to Diana. Nonetheless, this is truly the least successful and relevant season so far. When The Crown has begun told the 40s and 50s, an era very distant from us, almost mythical, and more easily modeled in a narrative that seemed to us viewers a fairy tale. Now the story arrived in the 90sa decade that resonates closer and that seems to all of us more news than history. So the closer it gets to the present day, the more this series walks on barbed wire, risking becoming the parody of herself. Too many dynamics that are repeated: the silence of the queen against the din of the other members of the family, the duty against love, the tradition against progress.

Some episodes just don’t work, due to unstable pacing and lackluster narration. This is the case of the third episode, entitled Mou Mouwho with a long (and avoidable) digression intends to introduce Mohamed Al Fayed (Salim Daw), and especially his son and future boyfriend of Diana Dodi (Khalid Abdalla), which, however, we will see next to the princess only next season. Not even the sixth episode convinces, Ipatiev Housewhich starts from the identification of the remains of the Romanovs, in Russia, to underline the emotional distance that the Queen and Prince Philip experience after 47 years of marriage: in addition to the excellent performance of Jonathan Pryce in the role of the Duke of Edinburgh, little remains. Peter Morgan then spreads in two episodes the famous interview / trap that Diana granted to the BBC and the journalist Martin Bashir in 1995, saying that her marriage was “a bit too crowded”; beautiful narrative technique that presents Bashir’s deception as a spy story with almost thriller features, the story too hasty who completely ignores the real and hottest consequences that interview caused (that is, a real earthquake in the princess’s entourage).

The Crown 5

Carlo and Diana steal the show

Reversing the Tolstoian maxim that all happy families are equal and every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way, the penultimate episode – the one that stages the process of the divorce of Charles and Diana – is instead one of the most successful. The princes of Wales are presented to us simply as “Couple 31”, one of the many unhappy couples who broke out that year. There are those who no longer have an interest in their partner, those who neglect their family for work and those who, like Carlo and Diana, simply got stuck in a marriage that shouldn’t have been done. A loveless marriage “whatever love means”. The two blame each other on responsibility and accuse each other during a conversation (fictitious but likely) in which Peter Morgan does what he does best: dramatize a moment that, in reality, must have been much more prosaic.

The cast and characters through thick and thin

Imelda Staunton confirms that she is an immense actress in the role of an even more rigorous queen in public, deliciously ironic in private (the scene in which she discovers, in spite of herself, that with increasing age the weight also increases is one of those pleasant interludes that remind us that The Crown it is first of all entertainment, and then everything else). But his character, for which Peter Morgan also feels a tangible sympathy, is inevitably obscured by Carlo and Diana and their respective interpreters, Elizabeth Debicki And Dominic West, who steal the show. For different reasons: Debicki is beautifully cast in the role of a Diana certainly alone, but rightly more determined and aware than that of Emma Corrin; West gives the idea of ​​being the classic student who does his homework, studies, works hard but ultimately never convinces. He doesn’t help the strange indulgence of Peter Morgan who this season tends to want everyone to look too good, to want to constantly remind us that yes the Windsors are real, but they are also men. Who can stumble upon uncomfortable phone calls (yes, the so-called tamponate born from the intercepted phone call of Carlo and Camilla is true story) and regretting a lost youthful love (Lesley Manville she is perfect in the role of a sixty-year-old Princess Margaret, melancholy and resigned, but still the only one capable of making the queen flinch).

The Crown 5

Despite the ups and downs, The Crown remains one of the pearls of contemporary television. With its refinement, attention to detail, elegant writing and top notch performers, it still is one of the best television products ever made. The next season, even more dangerously close to our times, will be the last and most insidious. Because he will have to make peace with the past (and with the detractors who have accused the authors of being excessively cruel to the royal family) and deliver his story to the future, on a hopefully positive note. Waiting for the next Peter Morgan who in twenty years will tell us about Harry, Meghan Markle and Oprah Winfrey.

The Crown 5, review: The season of Charles and Diana obscures the queen and becomes a story from a fairytale