Is Stephen Frears the English speaking world's most underrated director? From The Grifters to The Snapper , High Fidelity to Dangerous Liaisons , Frears switches easily from comedy to noir to period drama. His best films always feel both personal and polished with superbly constructed characters and well-developed universes.

The director's latest addition, The Queen , relates the aftermath of Princess Diana's death through the eyes of Queen Elizabeth and Tony Blair. I have little interest in the British Royal family and knew few details surrounding Diana's accident. Regardless or because of this, The Queen viewed like a thriller unfolding before my eyes.

Initially, I worried I would be bored, but instead, I found myself hanging on every word. Frears and writer Peter Morgan managed to turn the tension between the queen and Blair into a metaphor for the times we live in – the ever-widening gap between reserve and manners versus openness verging on too much information. I found myself going back and forth between the two, torn by nostalgia for the recent past and impatient with the queen's reticence.

The film transcends a potential TV movie plotline in favor of smaller moments and insightful character studies made all the more poignant by the little that is known about Queen Elizabeth, without becoming tawdry or exploitive. Both Helen Mirren and Michael Sheen do fantastic jobs of playing the people behind the dignitaries.

Extras: director and writer's commentary and “making of.”

Grade: A