The fourth season of The Crown, which will be available on Netflix on Sunday in French and English, is the best so far. And by far. It’s shiny and precious, like the jewelry of Queen Elizabeth II. It’s more rhythmic, even more grandiose, and this new royal chapter rolls out the red carpet for two legendary women from the United Kingdom, Lady Diana and Margaret Thatcher.
Wait until you see Diana Spencer, whose interpreter (the revelation Emma Corrin) looks like a mix of a young Jodie Foster and Laurence Leboeuf. It is magnetic. Her eyes both luminous and sad, her petulant personality, her tilted head, her colorful sweaters, her boyish haircut that has become classic, everything works.
Wait until you see Margaret Thatcher, played by the formidable actress Gillian Anderson (The Fall, The X-Files), which I didn’t immediately recognize under her puffy wig and aging prostheses. Her portrayal of the British Prime Minister is closer to caricature than, for example, that of Meryl Streep in the film The Iron Lady, but Gillian Anderson is doing admirably well by reproducing the muffled voice of the conservative politician, her jerky speech and her peculiar posture. She exceeds Meryl Streep’s performance, in my opinion.
And add to that the breathtaking Olivia Colman (Broadchurch), who continues her triumphant reign under the crown of Elizabeth II, and you get the tale of three dissimilar heroines, each stuck in a protocol straitjacket.
The fourth season of The Crown covers the 80s – from 1977 to 1990, to be precise – and the soundtrack gets better with pieces like Boys Don’t Cry by The Cure, Edge of Seventeen by Stevie Nicks or Upside Down by Diana Ross.
We feel that this prestigious series is dusted off, while retaining its opulent decorations.
The more “tabloid” aspect of The Crown 4 will undoubtedly displease the purists (not me), who will prefer the phlegm and the restraint of the previous seasons. But with Lady Diana’s triumphant entry into Buckingham Palace and her ultra-hyped marriage to Prince Charles (Josh O’Connor), glamor and glitter can’t be avoided.
At the same time, the melancholy young Diana, suffering from bulimia and isolated in the English countryside, occupies a lot of screen time. Parachuted into this aristocratic universe of which she does not master any of the codes, the Princess of Wales drifts slowly. Imagine. It begins with her husband, 12 years her senior, whom she does not know at all and who is already cheating on her with Camilla Parker Bowles (Emerald Fennell). I had forgotten all those crisp details.
Fortunately, the charm of Diana, a pop star, no more and no less, operates everywhere. In Balmoral, where Margaret Thatcher has tripped up (literally), Diana seduces members of the monarchy one by one, even the surly Princess Margaret (Helena Bonham Carter), the only one to predict doom for Charles and Diana.
In front of journalists around the world, Diana shines. But behind the closed doors of his castle, a tragic fate is being shaped.
In contrast, Margaret Thatcher did not start her career at 10 Downing Street with the same love rating. Its drastic reforms to thin the state, its refusal to impose sanctions on South Africa (for apartheid) and the costly war it has waged against Argentina for control of the Falklands arouse discontent is saying something.
Still. The Iron Lady, an uncompromising, narrow-minded and hyper-hard worker, does not soften. His private meetings with Queen Elizabeth II offer some of the best moments of this fourth part. These two women who are the same age hardly get along on anything and confront each other with an almost pretty passive aggressiveness. Muscular fights, while restraint. Very British in attitude.
Whether or not we adhere to his right-wing ideas, Mr.me Thatcher remains a fascinating figure. She complains about the condescension of her male colleagues, but she herself is no model of feminism, believing strongly (ah ha!) That women express their emotions too much, a sign of weakness.
Margaret Thatcher openly admits to preferring her son to her daughter, which culminates in a terrific episode where the Queen searches – and finds – her favorite among Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward. Hint: she must have changed her mind today.
We see much less of the snob Prince Philip (Tobias Menzies) in The Crown 4, which is not a big loss. On the other hand, Margaret would have deserved more material. The episode on mental illness, where she appears at length, reveals a darker and lesser-known side to the royal family. It’s captivating.
No need to have seen everything to get on board The Crown. And no danger of revealing punches of history, since, duh, it’s a historical series.
The important thing in The Crown, it is rather the way of telling these known events, which is done here in an imperial way.