In the 20th year of her reign, Elizabeth I (Helen Mirren) is pressured by her council to marry and beget an heir. This provokes a negative reaction by her sometime lover the Earl Of Leicester (Jeremy Irons). Years later, she will fall dangerously in love with Leicester's son (Hugh Dancy) who has political ambitions of his own. The same year she played Elizabeth II (winning every best actress award around including the Oscar) in THE QUEEN, Mirren played Elizabeth I in this four hour HBO event. Mirren is, in a word, magnificent. While manipulating the historical facts makes for good drama, the film can't help but feel historically counterfeit. But who cares when you get a performance as rich and overwhelming as Mirren's Elizabeth I. As Mirren plays her, this Elizabeth is no archival monarch but a living breathing woman. The film is basically divided into two sections, the first dominated by her relationship with Leicester (Irons, surprisingly bad) and the second by Essex (Hugh Dancy, surprisingly good). While Mirren manages to carry the weight of part one on her shoulders (though there's a nice performance by Barbara Flynn as Mary, Queen Of Scots), part two is far more compelling as drama. Directed nicely by Tom Hooper (LES MISERABLES) with superb production values and costumes and a first rate score by Rob Lane. With Toby Jones (very good), Eddie Redmayne and Patrick Malahide.