The late 1780s: George III (Hawthorne), already disturbed by the loss of the American colonies, finds his ebullience further eroded by the onset of alarming mood swings: he jumps his wife's lady-in-waiting (Donohoe), disrupts concerts, and goes generally gaga. While doctors argue over stools and methodology, a wider crisis arises: Prime Minister Pitt vainly assures Parliament that the King is healthy; but his Whig rival Fox throws in with the disaffected Prince of Wales. The Queen (Mirren) alone remains absolutely loyal, and when Wales denies her access to her spouse, the monarch's only hopes lie with an equerry (Graves), a few wary courtiers, and Willis, an unconventional parson-turned-medic (Holm). This elegant adaptation by Alan Bennett of his own stage success is the best of his contributions to the big screen to date: sturdily performed and persuasively detailed, and with a beady delight in political in-fighting. The semi-heroic role afforded the disciplinarian Willis is perhaps a touch reactionary, and there's a nagging feeling that there's less here than meets the eye. But it's funny and moving.
Cast and crew