Season 3: 4.5 stars
Upon the initial release of the first season back in 2016, it was made very clear that the audience should not get too attached to the cast, as they would only be playing the Royal Family for the first two seasons. However, Claire Foy, Matt Smith and Vanessa Kirby, who played Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Phillip and Princess Margaret respectively, were so incredible in their roles that a large chunk of the audience, including me, dreaded to return to the show with a completely different cast.
Three years down the line, Olivia Colman, Tobias Menzies and Helena Bonham Carter have taken over the lead roles respectively, and they are absolutely wonderful.
Colman, who was announced to take over the role some months before her unexpected yet well-deserved Oscar win for playing another queen in The Favourite, completely nails her role. It’s honestly weird how she finds a way to sound both exactly like the Queen and like Claire Foy at the same time. Most importantly, her facial expressions are priceless. Each curl of her lip, each lift of an eyebrow conveys feelings and messages very clearly. It’s honestly quite magnificent. Her take on the Queen is slightly more unlikeable compared to Foy’s, though, given the source material, seems justified to me.
Bonham Carter, who has always been one of my favourite actresses is nothing short of magnificent. Usually known for her more ‘out-there’ roles (Bellatrix Lestrange in Harry Potter, Ms. Lovett in Sweeney Todd), this role is quite a departure for her. She is absolutely magnetic in her role, portraying the eccentric princess with surprising amount of elegance. A very prominent part of her arc this season is her bitterness - towards always being in the queen’s shadow, to her lack of purpose in life. Unfortunately, though, halfway into the season, Bonham Carter sort of disappears, not really having much to do until the final episode of the season, which is my only grievance with this season. I just wanted more of her, goddammit.
It’s no surprise to anyone that Colman and Bonham Carter excelled in their roles. However, the real surprise of the season is how magnificent Josh O’Connor and Erin Doherty are as Prince Charles and Princess Anne respectively. They capture the young royals with so much emotion and poise that it was hard to take one’s eyes off of them every time they were on the screen. These young actors may only be a part of The Crown for two seasons, but given the amount of sheer skill they demonstrated with this season, I don’t think we’ll have to wait long to see them in more projects down the line.
One other thing that The Crown always excels in is its cinematography, which is once again off the charts. Each episode looks and feels like a movie, and an expensive one at that. Each shot is so gorgeous that I wish I was a royal. Then two minutes later, the show makes me realise how shit their lives must be despite the wealth, the fame and the palaces.
Overall, compared to the previous seasons, season 3 of The Crown has a slower pace. However, it is as strong as ever, and I genuinely can’t wait for the next season which will undoubtedly contain juicier content, including and not limited to the introduction of Princess Diana and Margaret Thatcher into the equation. Although the cast change took a second to get used to, each member of the new cast has managed to perfectly embody the real-life individuals that they so successfully bring to our screens.
Quick side note: over the last few weeks, there has been speculation that Imelda Staunton (Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter) was tapped to replace Colman and play the queen in her 60s. This rumour has been denied by Netflix, but I am holding out hope that this comes to fruition. Staunton is perhaps one of the most underrated actresses of her generation, mainly known for her role in the Harry Potter movies, which she executed so perfectly that half the world hates her guts. However, given her stage credits in the West End, and my own experiences seeing her live on stage, she would be a perfect fit.