All the Queen's Men Reviews
I love Eddie Izzard and he and the rest of the cast were just fantastic :)
All I could think of while watching this was Eddie Izzard's stand up where he says "and so what could be more surprising than the 1st Battalion Transvestite Brigade? Airborne wing! The airborne wing parachuting into dangerous areas with fantastic makeup! And a fantastic gun! And the opposing forces going, "fucking ?ell, look at these guys!""
My favorite line though.. of course Eddy Izzard..
Yes, I'm beesexual, I have sex with Bees.. (after a german man he knows calls him bisexual with a very german accent)
It just stuck out for some reason..
At one point in the movie, Eddie Izzard talks about having been in Berlin in the early '30s. (Which led me to check his birthdate, which leads to the astonishing realization that he's almost fifty.) His regret at seeing Berlin in the middle of the war is palpable. Indeed, I think quite a lot of art focuses on the longing for Berlin between the wars. There are some places which are so crystalizing of a mood that just saying the time and place is enough to evoke the mood you're trying for, and Berlin in the early '30s is one of them. In many ways, it was evidence of a great cycle, and it's interesting to consider how the city would have swung, so to speak, again had the whole thing not been divided by the occupying nations. The decadence of Berlin between the wars was a response to the horror everyone had just suffered through. Conversely, the oppression of the Nazi regime was, at least in part, a response to the hedonism leading up to it.
O'Rourke (Matt LeBlanc) is an American referred to as "Agent Almost." As in, he almost captured an Enigma machine. Apparently, he has almost captured one several times, with each mission falling just short. Now, headquarters is sending him out again. Only the war has imposed such great cost on Germany that the factory where the machines are built is now staffed by women. Logically, therefore, O'Rourke must lead a team of cross-dressing men into Germany to steal the machine. His team is gruff, by-the-book Archie (James Cosmo), nervous bookworm Johnno (David Birkin, twice a member of the Picard family), and flamboyant bisexual transvestite Tony (Eddie Izzard, of course). They infiltrate Germany, hooking up with Tony's old friend Franz (Oliver Korittke) and lovely librarian Romy (Nicolette Krebitz). There are, of course, many dangers, and the four men are perhaps not the best prepared for their mission.
There is a lot of hate for this movie, and assuredly it isn't perfect. Matt LeBlanc probably isn't the best choice for the role, though it's certainly true that his character isn't very happy with the situation he's found himself in. The movie does seem kind of uncertain as to whether it's a wacky comedy or a serious drama in places. Comedy generally wins out, but there are scenes where you're not sure it's supposed to. And alas, some of the comedy comes from "Look! They're men in dresses!" Tony's sexuality is played for laughs, at least somewhat, though there is also a strong implication that the British command is foolish for its attitude toward it. At least once, it is shown that Tony is a perfectly capable soldier. Certainly he has a flair for espionage which is wasted by his "medical discharge." The business with Archie and the girl (Maria Petz) is another which is played both for laughs and for pathos, and while either would work well, neither quite works with the other.
There are moments, though. There is tenderness between Tony and Franz which few other films would permit. The girl is, after all, hardly the only one left so orphaned. There are several shots of watching the bombs lighting the skies of Berlin. Eddie Izzard, of course, is enjoying himself immensely. He brings a flair to Tony which no one else could have. Birkin makes a very pretty girl. And indeed, while the concept of the movie seems flawed to anyone with the slightest knowledge of World War II history--after all, it doesn't take much research to know about Enigma and codebreaking--it's an interesting idea, at least. Of course, the twist to the movie cannot be revealed too early if we are to go along with the men in believing they're doing what's important. However, by revealing it so late, it seems almost an afterthought, almost as though the screenwriter didn't do any research until the last minute. Still, the reactions of the characters upon learning the twist is at least somewhat believable, which I guess is a start.
It is true that there was a better movie in here than actually got made. It is also, perhaps, true that the better movie would be in B&W. Colour makes the failings of the men's drag all the more transparent. It's true that at least part of the joke is that they're bad at it, but they do have to be convincing enough that they won't get stopped by the first patrol to happen across them. Franz makes reference at one point to a friend sent to the camps, and it is certainly true that World War II Berlin is not the best place for transvestitism. B&W covers a certain number of sins which are made plain in colour, and I think perhaps the desolation when Tony leaves the bomb shelter and looks at what is left of a city he once loves would be the better as well. Colour makes it too pretty. Yes, the scene watching the bombing at night only works in colour, but at the same time, you get looming Matt LeBlanc in uncertain drag. There are some sacrifices which must be made.