Year:  2022

Director:  Fabrizio Ferri

Rated:  TBC

Release:  March 18, 2023

Distributor: Sharmill

Running time: 77 minutes

Worth: $12.00
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

Charles Dance (narrator), Ben Aris, Isabella Rossellini, Susan Sarandon

… an energetic tour of an impressive compilation of photographs …

Portrait of the Queen is a timely look at one of the most photographed figures in all of history. Queen Elizabeth II’s legacy has been captured in endless snapshots, polaroids, and portraits since 1926 — a legacy spanning over half the existence of modern photography itself. With world famous photographer Fabrizio Ferri comfortably behind the lens as director, the documentary centres not around Elizabeth’s life, nor her reign as monarch, but instead, offers a behind-the-scenes look into the insights and inspirations of those tasked with taking on the role as Her Majesty’s photographer.

Framed with narration from the somewhat unsettling floating head of Charles Dance, the documentary brings to life the best-selling biography by Paola Calvetti, featuring in-depth interviews with a variety of sources, from award-winning photographer Ben Aris to stars like Isabella Rossellini and Susan Sarandon, both women intimately familiar with being the focus of a photographer’s lens.

The film delves into the pressure inherent in photographing one of the most influential figures on the planet. From being scolded by the Queen’s own assistants with iconic lines such as: “Her Majesty doesn’t smile on cue, she smiles when she feels like smiling”, to entire photoshoots being scrapped on a whim simply because their royal subject sees the setting as “unrealistic”, the pitfalls and obstacles are myriad when attempting to capture a unique image of a figure so highly guarded and inaccessible, and yet simultaneously so frequently photographed that she is instantly recognisable to millions the world over.

What could ultimately be a monotonous parade of literal portraits of the Queen sitting regally before some tapestry or other, is instead an energetic tour of an impressive compilation of photographs provided by Camera Press, keepers of an unparalleled library of royal images. There’s an undeniable touch of monarchist propaganda to it all, with even the seemingly diverse collection of street interviews somehow never having a single bad word for the former reigning monarch. Still, that might just be a story for another time. When it comes down to it, Portrait of the Queen is, at its heart, a study of the portrait takers, and their never-ending pursuit to capture that one elusive and truly memorable shot.